Learning from Ants, Plants, Bears, and Jesus

Try to guess the common reason for these acts of nature:

  • Why does the cactus turn itself perpendicular to light?
  • Why does the bear get fat before hibernation?
  • Why does the olive tree rotate its leaves?

The answers are all the same.

Learning from Ants, Plants, Bears, and Jesus

(Photo: Mosaic of a bear at the Caesarea Byzantine mansion. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Each is preserving for the future.

  • By turning to avoid heat, plants preserve moisture.
  • By stuffing itself with food, the bear can sleep a long time without eating. (I wish I could do that.)

God designed His creation—from plants to animals to people—to be savers.

The problem with people? We need a lesson on saving from ants, plants, bears—and Jesus.

Cactus with flowers in Israel.

(Photo: Cactus with flowers in Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Saving—It’s Only Natural (Except When it Isn’t)

Saving is a natural part of our lives. Think about it:

  • None of us go to the grocery store for every meal.
  • We don’t fill up our gas tank every time we drive.
  • When we travel for a week, we pack for more than one day.

Planning ahead makes sense. But we seem to miss it in several key areas.

Like saving money.

Olive leaves in Aijalon Valley

(Photo: Olive leaves in Aijalon Valley. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Why Saving Money Slips through the Cracks

Jesus spoke more about money than He did about heaven and hell combined. Usually, when we think of money and spirituality, our minds default to giving money.

But saving money is also in the Bible.

We just let it slip. Why? The reason often goes something like: “I’m trusting God.” This sounds really spiritual. We even quote verses:

  • “Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow and that we should trust God for our daily bread.”
  • “The Lord commanded: ‘Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth.’”

Hey, who can argue with that? Ironically, the context of Jesus’ words do.

"Go to the ant, O sluggard."

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

The principle of saving goes back even further than Jesus.

How to Balance Saving Money with Trusting God

1. We are to trust God to provide. Obviously, storing up stuff can indeed become an idol (Luke 12:190-21). But trusting God doesn’t preclude the wisdom of saving.

Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provision in the harvest. —Proverbs 6:6-8

The wise ant “prepares” and “gathers” its food. I other words, the ant earns and it saves.

2. Scripture teaches that saving for future needs (including saving for giving) is simple wisdom. See for example: Genesis 41:47-48; Exodus 16:4-5; 1 Corinthians 16:2.

3. The amount isn’t as essential as the discipline of consistency. It will add up and it will be a blessing (Proverbs 13:11). My wife and I saved for 9 years for our first trip to Israel.

We should be wise with what God has provided—and save.

Any ant, plant, or bear can tell you. It’s not only natural—it’s necessary.

Tell me what you think: Is saving money a contradiction to trusting God? To leave a comment, just click here.

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