Money Wise

The Ant Life

  • “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6–8 ESV)
  • “The ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer.” (Proverbs 30:25)

Consider the ant. What are ants known for? Many things, but if you watch ants, they are in constant motion—constant gathering and building and storing. We get these massive ant hills at our house. They seem to spring up overnight. Ants have incredible industry. We’ve all seen a little ant carrying something three times its size. There is nothing happier than an ant at a picnic.

Proverbs urges an approach to life and money that stewards money, energy, gifts, and opportunities. The opposite of the ant in Proverbs is the sluggard. The sluggard wastes his opportunities and time and guess what happens? He is surprised to find he is in need.

“The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.” (Proverbs 20:4)

The Bible has no room for sluggards and freeloaders. The 4th commandment is, “Six days you shall labor.” (Exodus 20:9) Here’s the principle: God provides materially for us through the stewarding of the earth and the natural principle of reaping what you sow. The seed principle of investment. I put down a single seed and I reap a whole plant. Think of the cornfields that surround us here in Indiana. Those farmers are investing a seed and reaping a crop. Now there are unforeseen circumstances and tragedies that create hardships. But the general principle is that we labor, we are rewarded for our labor, and that reward provides for our todays and tomorrows. The Christian work ethic is well established and Bethelonians should be the hardest working employees wherever we are found.

“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” (Proverbs 10:4)

The diligent worker will generally produce more than our immediate needs. What do we do with it? There is a big difference between what the wise person does with any excess and what the fool does with it.

  • “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.” (Proverbs 21:20)
  • “The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.” (Proverbs 21:20, NLT)

We all are thinking of family members who spend every dime they get. How do the wise end up with savings and provisions for tomorrow? Simple. They live off less than they make. Now there is a novel approach to life. Live off less than you make.

Pastor Steve, That’s un-American! Indeed, our culture urges us to go into debt. Credit card debt is eating many family’s whole futures. The average person is carrying $6,741 in credit card debt.[1] Can I just say, that is NOT the ant life! That is NOT being money wise. Proverbs would urge cutting them up if you can’t pay them off month by month. If a fool spends whatever they get, what do we call someone who spends even more than they get and lives in constant debt? That’s harsh, but that’s Proverbs. It’s a gritty dose of reality, and those who are wise will heed it.

What is the wise alternative? The Bible urges, get this, living off less than you make and saving. Not hoarding. Hoarding is saving beyond any reasonable need in the future. Savings is prudent preparation for future needs.

“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” (Proverbs 13:11 ESV)

Notice it’s little by little; it’s not a get-rich-quick approach. It’s not foolish approaches like lotteries and gambling. Put those in the absolutely foolish category. I’ve heard Christians argue it’s just entertainment money. No, it’s the foolish use of money and failure to steward God’s resources. I was dismayed to see our local politicians agree to place a new giant casino right next to 80-94 in Gary. Casinos prey on the poor and financially foolish and it will be a terrible blight on our community. May a Bethelonian never be seen near one.

No. Far better is to be an ant and save little by little. To do that you have to live under your income, create margin, and save. The power of saving and compounding interest over time increases value. Think like an ant. It may seem like a daunting task to get out of debt and save, but you can do it. We have seen many people follow plans like Financial Peace University to change their whole financial world. It takes discipline and wisdom. But here’s the thing—when God gets ahold of our hearts, he gets ahold of our money too.

You may say, but I don’t like thinking about that stuff or My bank statements depress me. I’d rather not look! Is that how the wise talk or the foolish talk?

Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever” (Proverbs 27:23-24)

Scripture urges oversight and stewardship of everything God gives to us. Know your flocks. Know your finances. Be a vigilant steward. I came across this definition recently,

“Stewardship is the active and responsible management of God’s creation for God’s purposes.” (Gregory Baumer and John Cortines)[2] It is only by wise stewardship and controlled spending that we create margins for saving and generosity.

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.” (Proverbs 13:22)

The real inheritance we provide to our children is not financial, it’s spiritual. It’s the gospel. I recently talked with the family member of a dad who created a multi-billion-dollar company. How do those kids of the rich typically end up? Fighting about money and strung out on drugs. This man wisely took his kids all over the world but not to resorts; he took them on mission trips to Africa and South America. He exposed them to the work of God in hard places. He left a legacy and his kids manage the fortune entirely toward gospel ministry. I’m told they received very little financially, but what a spiritual legacy! That legacy is available no matter what your financial status.

Live the ant life. Make the most of your gifts and talents. Make as much money as you legitimately can. Sow your seeds. Work hard. Reap your harvests. Save little by little, like an ant.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Additional Scripture quotations taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

© 2019 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

[1] Claire Tsosie and Erin El Issa, “2018 American Household Credit Card Debt Study,” www.nerdwallet.com, December 10, 2018.

[2] Gregory Baumer and John Cortines, God and Money: How We Discovered True Riches at Harvard Business School, p. 47.

To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here

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