Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
Are you a self-starter? Or do you need to be told what to do? And then reminded to do it? What should you do today that no one else will say anything to you about? What needs to be done that no one else will step up and do? Will you get it done? And get it done well? Do you have enough sense of responsibility to know what you ought to do and to do it?
Solomon in this proverb continued to condemn and warn sluggards by comparing them to ants (Pr 6:6-11). These little people do not need a meeting every morning to be told what to do and how to do it. They go to work and get things done, well done, now! They hardly need a review of Bible Economics, because they committed to its rules years ago.
The ants provide an excellent lesson and example in diligence, frugality, and savings. Instead of a Harvard MBA, you need to study ants at an ant farm. They work hard all summer to provide for their needs during the fall, winter, and spring (Pr 6:8; 30:25). They work hard, consume little, and save much. All three of these traits are great virtues.
And they do it without direction. The ants do not have a boss or manager to remind them of diligence, frugality, and saving. They do these things instinctively by God’s wise creation. It is a shame most men cannot copy the virtues of these little people. Solomon warned his son about human sluggards that do not work during harvest (Pr 10:5; 20:4).
Many men must be forced to work, reminded to work, told how to work, reproved for jobs poorly done, reminded how to do the job right, and constantly followed to keep them working (Pr 6:9-11; 20:13). They are losers. They are a pain and problem. They will take a day off for a cold or headache. If the boss is away, they will play. These are sluggards.
Other men spend everything they make, much of it on pleasure (Pr 21:17,20; 23:21). They will spend next month’s labor by using credit cards for entertainment and toys today. Others like them will invest their money in foolish schemes that rob them and their family (Pr 28:19). It has never occurred to them there is no necessity to spend all income.
These two kinds of men – the sluggard and the waster – are brothers. They both come from the family of financial ruin (Pr 18:9). They could learn much from the ant, but they are too proud to consider such insignificant creatures, though King Solomon did! They are so arrogant and so addicted to sleep that no reasons will convince them (Pr 26:16).
Savings is not a suggestion. It is a commandment (Pr 6:8; 30:25). The ants do it by the instinct God put in them. Good men do it by the conviction of the truth God revealed to them. But most men, especially today, do not save. They are devoid of financial wisdom.
It is a shame that most nations spend far more than their revenues. It is a shame debtors are honored and protected, while creditors are hounded and persecuted. It is a shame tax benefits are for spenders rather than for savers. But these poor examples and influences do not move the man with great character and conviction (Pr 11:16; 19:14; 21:20).
Parents, you are responsible to teach your children hard work, wise foresight, spending discipline, and constant saving. These four simple traits will do more for their future financial and personal success than any other natural investment you can make in them. Do not settle for helping them with their Psychology homework – which they will never use and only distracts their minds from profitable learning. Teach them about the ant!
The cure for sluggards and spendthrifts is simple and obvious. Starve them. They will quickly learn both virtues – diligence and saving. This is the wisdom of God, and humanistic shortcuts like public education, welfare, jobs programs, and charity will not work as well (Pr 20:4; II Thess 3:6-14). Christian charity extends only to acts of God, not consequences of sloth or waste, only to necessary things, not toys or entertainment.
The locusts are also praised in Proverbs 30:27 for not having a king, but the virtue there is social cooperation and team effort, for the locusts all go forth by bands, or swarms. But the ant is singled out twice for its great diligence and frugality, with a wise eye to the future (Pr 6:8; 30:25). Learn this simple lesson and avoid the financial trouble of others.
Paul warned that every man shall bear his own burden (Gal 6:5). You cannot blame your parents, teachers, or pastor for failure, either financially or spiritually. This is especially true if you had good parents and were taught in a Christian church. The more advantages you have had, the more you will be punished by the perfectly fair God (Luke 12:47-48).
Dear reader, what should you be doing today that you are not? Do you need someone to tell you, again? Do you need to be punished by authority or circumstances to do it? Consider the ant, and do what you ought to be doing. You will be blessed in the deed naturally and spiritually. You should be especially eager to get at your spiritual duties.
Jesus Christ was the ultimate self-starter. He was focused on obeying His Father from the beginning, which He showed even at age twelve in the temple. And He did this in spite of His mother and Joseph not understanding or helping Him toward His goal (Luke 2:49; John 4:34). Hear Him speak of His burden to serve His Father: “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).