Consider the Ant
6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. 7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, 8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, 11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber and want like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:6-11)
From the beginning, it was God’s intention that man work and not become idle. Work could not have been a punishment for man, for sin had not yet come into the world.
Consider Genesis 2:15, The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. The Holy Spirit says in Proverbs 6:6, that Christians can be wise in work if we will look, learn, and apply the ant’s habits to our daily walk with Christ. Notice the spiritual application in Proverbs 6:8, that there is a reward for consistent work through the harvest.
Acts 19:11-20 is another passage where the Holy Spirit provides us an example of a worker, as well as an example of the importance of having God’s people work with authority.
The Sons of Sceva
11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. (Acts 19:11-20)
Christians can see from Acts 19:11-20 that Paul worked in such a way for the Lord, that even the evil spirits knew not only Jesus’ name but Paul’s name too. As Christians, we are God’s people and we can and should offer devoted work and Service to God although without the miraculous power of the Spirit which had ceased according to 1 Corinthians 13:1-11, in which Paul and other first-century brethren had to confirm the Word that they preached during that time (see Mark 16:17-20). The Sons of Sceva were not God’s People, they were not Christians however, and they apparently believed that anyone could preach the Word and have the same authority, power, and effect as one approved by God. The evil spirit heard the false imitators’ words but answered back to them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” before it overpowered the exorcists and beat them to the point of leaving them naked and wounded. It would be careless for Christians to miss the acts and demonstration of repentance in word and through their deeds in Acts 19:18-19.
Christians, are our work habits like that of the ant that works through harvest to receive a reward? Jesus said that the harvest was plentiful but that the laborers are few in Matthew 9:37. Am I a laborer for the Lord or do I look to offer Him an excuse on Judgment Day that the people had hard hearts and were unavailable to be harvested? Do I work in such a way for the Lord, that Satan recognizes me as an enemy to his devices and plans and therefore, a Child of the living God? Christians must reflect on James 4:7, to cause the devil to flee from them.