EARTH: Hard Work by Francine Rivers

Reflections on How God Speaks Through Nature

Hard Work by Francine Rivers

From: Earth Psalms

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
Learn from their ways and become wise!
Though they have no prince or governor
or ruler to make them work,
they labor hard all summer,
gathering food for the winter.
(Proverbs 6:6-8)

We consider ants pests, especially in late summer when they are sending out scouts and then armies to gather food for the winter. We do our best to get rid of them with traps and poisons. Even so, they keep coming back, year after year. They are industrious, determined, and strong in the face of tremendous intolerance and persecution.

God honors them in Proverbs 30, counting them among a few animals that are “small but unusually wise,” (v. 24).  Why?  Because ants offer good life lessons:

They work hard.
They know winter is coming.
They make preparations for the lean times ahead.
They work together.
They thrive.
They survive.

While the rest of scripture may not be as blunt as the book of Proverbs, which refers to the listener as a “lazybones” who would do well to study the hardworking ant (see 6:6), the Bible does have more to say about work.  The apostle Paul encourages the Colossians with these words: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving,” (3:23-24).

The reasons behind our work are important.  Ants labor because they know their work will bring them food and shelter through the winter, and of course we do some of our work for the same reason of meeting our physical needs.  But we can also labor because we know that our work – whether it’s preaching a sermon, cooking a meal, teaching a classroom full of students, bagging groceries, balancing accounts, designing software, or caring for children – is for the Lord.  We honor him with our sincere effort, our good attitude, and our concern for excellence.

Rather than annihilate the anthill, I think I’ll celebrate the ant this year and put a pile of brown sugar and rice in the green space just beyond our fence.  Enough for a colony party.

Work is the keystone of a perfect life.  Work and trust in God. (Woodrow Wilson)

REFLECT

Do you tend to think of work as something you must do to pay the bills, or do you consider it something more?  How might viewing your work as something you’re doing for God instead of for your human employer change your perspective?

APPLY

Think about one of two tasks that you do poorly, or with a bad attitude.  This week, reread Colossians 3:23-24 and think about Paul’s words when you’re doing those tasks.

CONNECT WITH GOD

Lord God, thank you for giving me the opportunity to work.  Teach me to imitate the industriousness of the ant – to plan for the future and to work hard even when no one is watching.  May I always remember that when I work, I am really working for you.  Help me to do my work to the best of my ability.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.
(Psalm 90:17)

 

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