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A View from the Anthill

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I have anthills in my yard. I enjoy making mesas out of their mounds by running over them with the lawnmower or crushing with one step what took them hours to build.

But as soon as I destroy their work, they immediately begin to rebuild. And they do it together.

Take a View Atop an Ant Hill

(Photo by: By Chmee2, Own work, CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

My favorite comic strip of yesteryear, “Calvin & Hobbes,” shows Calvin standing by an anthill shouting,

Hey ant, you’re working like a maniac and what have you got to show for it?  What’s the colony done for you lately?  What about your needs?  You don’t owe anybody anything!  Let the others fend for themselves!  Move out!  Discover yourself!  Express your individuality!

The last frame shows Calvin grinning and saying, “If they listen, this should solve our ant problem.”

The Bible also points us to the ant to learn a lesson that will help our lives.

Learning from an Ant

The Proverbs say it best:

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. —Proverbs 6:6-8

An ant, while having no leader, works diligently with other ants for a common goal. The colony works together to store food. A common goal requires a common commitment.

"Go to the ant, O sluggard."

(Photo by Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

God also built this need into the makeup of people. The problem? Our selfishness taints our view of what is truly beneficial.

Looking Beyond One Ant

No ant builds its own mound. Calvin was right: if an ant worried about what the colony could do for it, if it focused only on its own needs, if it let the others fend for themselves, we would have no ants.

Of course, the Bible cautions us against this kneejerk reaction:

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. —Philippians 2:4-5

It’s assumed that you will look to your own needs. Every ant eats. But we have to go beyond our own needs:

  • When a husband or wife focuses only on what’s in it for him or her, the marriage mound will eventually implode on itself.
  • When an employee sees his or her job as only a means of getting—and doesn’t see himself or herself as contributing to eternal humanity—neither the company nor the employee are well-served.
  • When a church member only goes to church to enjoy the gifts of others and not to serve, the experience isn’t satisfying or beneficial.

The attitude of Christ was one of a servant. He served the needs of others, laying down His life for others.

A view from an anthill

(Photo: Giant anthill in Zambia. By J nestor, Own work, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Take a View Atop an Anthill

Take a walk out to your yard and poke an ant bed. Or stomp one. Watch what they do. They immediately begin working together to rebuild.

We could learn a lot from those little wise guys.

Tell me what you think: What helps you notice other people’s needs? To leave a comment, just click here.

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