The Ant and the Sluggard

Proverbs 6:6-11 – Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: {7} Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, {8} Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. {9} How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? {10} Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: {11} So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

This passage is divided into two parts: verse 6-8, speaking of the ant, and verse 9-11, which speaks of the sluggard. There is no “in-between”, but only these two options. You will either be typified by the ant or the sluggard. Which will you be?

Today, the things of nature are hidden from us, because of our society, but these things are still the truth, even though they are hidden from us. I remember as a youth putting ants into a glass jar filled with dirt, and putting some food into the container and watching the ants immediately began to build a city, with tunnels going to and fro, and the food slowly disappearing. I remember the story of the ant and the grasshopper, which came, I suppose, from this scripture.

The ant is small, but so is the grasshopper. Both can easily be overlooked in our fast paced, materialistic society. But neither should be overlooked, for they are still here, and both are still doing exactly the same thing as they have always done. They are still an example to young and old alike.

Neither the ant or the grasshopper has a computer, or hand held, or internet connections. The important thing is whether or not either of these items are giving God glory, or are they being used for the sole benefit of the user. When you use any “modern convenience”, does God get the glory, or is it you that is getting the glory? We can also talk about the car, or air conditioning, or central heat in the exact same manner. The question really is, does the ant and the grasshopper have anything to teach? Are you willing to sit, without anything hindering you, and observe the ant and the grasshopper? You are not too old or too young. If you are unwilling to sit and learn something from God, by watching these two little creatures, you have already refused to listen to God.

    1. There is no contradiction between Matthew 6:34, Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, and Proverbs 6:6-11.

      1. There is nothing wrong with providing for old age, or a time when work is no longer possible.

        1. There is something wrong with being overly concerned or anxious about it.

        2. There is something wrong in desiring a time when you will stop working.

        3. Work is a part of the curse, therefore it is good for all people to continue working as long as they are physically able.

        4. If you do not like you job, it would be good to find a job you do like.

        5. By the way, I am not speaking about retirement – I am speaking about quitting work, or ceasing to be responsible for what we are responsible.

      2. It is impossible to provide for every eventuality.

        1. God never said we should provide for every eventuality, but he did command us to trust him for every eventuality.

        2. We should always do as God expects us to do, but understand that sometimes God hides circumstances from us, so we will remember he is still our God, and he is still in control.

        3. Remember, God gave Adam and his wife the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, not because the tree was bad, or because God is bad, but as a constant reminder that God is their God.

      3. Do not say, I will get all my material and physical affairs in order, then I will serve the Lord.

        1. That is not what God commanded Adam and Eve.

        2. Adam and Eve believed what God told them about the coming redeemer, then received the curse of God upon themselves, and willingly yielded themselves to God’s will.

    2. The ant.

      1. The ant has been famous in all ages for its social habits, foresight, economy and industry.

      2. Collecting their food at the proper seasons, they bite off the ends of the grain to prevent it from germinating, and lay it up in cells till needed.

    3. Lessons from the animals.

      1. Job 12:7-8 - But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: 8 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.

      2. Isaiah 1:3 - The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Anybody who has dealt with these two animals understands these two animals will fight to arrive at “home”, but the people of God sometimes fight to leave home. I remember cows and horses who would run away, but when the owner came, these animals would be very content. They were more content when at home in their own barn.

      3. Matthew 6:26 - Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? The issue is, not that birds are to work as the ants, but all are to do as God desires. We must be very willing to obey God, whatever he desires us to do.

    4. Some lessons about slothfulness.

      1. Proverbs 10:26 - As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him. You can't trust a sluggard. They may give you many excuses for why whatever you have sent them on has failed, but they are at the heart of why it failed.

      2. Proverbs 13:4 - The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat. Here is a vast difference in the sluggard and the diligent. Are you happy with what God has given to you? When I was in college, I remember a man who was a member of Shiloh Baptist Church, where I attended, who said he was happy even if he was poor. He stated that God made him poor, because God knew if he was wealthy, he wouldn't trust God. So he was poor, and he was very happy with what God had done to him.

      3. Proverbs 15:19 - The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain. Every way the slothful man seems to hedge him in, making him think there is no escape. “But” is the conjunction that helps him get out of the trouble he is in. If you way seems to have thorns every way you turn, you are not walking the correct way, the Godly way. If you don't know which way to go, it may be you are being slothful. The way of God is very plain. It is easy to determine the correct way.

      4. Proverbs 18:9 - He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster. There is a great kinship of slothfulness and waste.

      5. Proverbs 19:15 - Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger. Notice some things that always go together – slothfulness and idleness. Both cause famine.

      6. Proverbs 19:24 - A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again. This is nothing but pure laziness. I am sure you all know people are lazy, will not work. They will not supply for themselves, or have enough to help anybody else.

      7. Proverbs 20:4 - The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing. I remember Gene Birch, who was plowing one winter day beside Norman Meadows house. He wore coveralls, plus a coat because of the cold. When I commended about this, he quoted this verse. That very harvest, Brother Gene already had an absolutely bountiful harvest. He died in January of that next year, at the age of 38.

      8. Proverbs 21:25 - The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.

      9. Proverbs 22:13 - The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets. But that is not so. The slothful man saying it is so, does not make it so. There are many hazards, as with everything there is a hazard, or risk. But all risks will never be eliminated from every task.

      10. Proverbs 24:30-34 - I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; 31 And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. 32 Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. 33 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 34 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man. This passage is so very true. All it takes to become poor is to do nothing. Being poor is automatic for the slothful, although it is not said to be true. The poor have nobody to blame but themselves, but today, there is always somebody else to blame.

      11. Proverbs 26:13-15 - The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets. 14 As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed. 15 The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth. The slothful man says there is a lion in the way, when there is nothing at all hindering. It is a made-up something that is very terrible, as the slothful man is still in bed, hiding his hand in his bosom, because he is grieved when he thinks about doing something himself.