In Idaho, the summer days are gloriously long, which may lull some people into thinking winter will never come. But locals will remind you that winter is never far away. Industrious residents prepare for the cold months ahead by chopping and stacking wood, cleaning the chimney, and making sure that their snowplows and snowblowers are working. When winter does come, they will be ready.
Solomon illustrates the same principle in today’s reading by pointing to the ant as an example of industriousness. The ant doesn’t have a foreman to oversee its labor, yet it wisely prepares in the summer for what is coming in the winter (vv. 7–8). The ant makes the most of the opportunities to work, because it knows winter will soon come, and provisions will be scarce. Solomon suggests it is easy to become indulgent with times of rest. “How long will you lie there, you sluggard?” (v. 9). It is easy for us to let things slip and the results could be devastating (v. 11).
While the ant is wise, working hard is not just a matter of wisdom; it’s also a matter of worship. Though speaking to slaves in the ancient Roman Empire, Paul’s words equally apply to us today: “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” (Col. 3:23–24). What’s more, Ecclesiastes lists work among the gifts God has provided for our own pleasure (Eccl. 5:18–20). How can we reflect the attitude described by Solomon as we undertake each task set before us today?
>> It is easy to view work as bad and the weekends or vacation as good. Today, whether you are stocking a shelf, configuring a spreadsheet or doing your laundry, consider how you can use your ordinary work, which is the bulk of our lives, to glorify God.
When You created the universe, You worked for six days before resting. We are made in the image of a working God. Teach us to make our work an offering to You by fulfilling our responsibilities with diligence and integrity.