Proverbs 6:6 tells us to consider the ways of the ant and gain wisdom. Wisdom…from ants? We humans usually think we have wisdom on lockdown, but let’s do what the proverbs say and take a moment to observe. Have you ever been sitting at a summertime picnic, enjoying burgers and hot dogs (or a leafy green salad if you’re into that sort of thing), only to be attacked by a barrage of ants looking to pilfer your summertime treats like pirate booty and abscond with them to their tiny yet intricate ant abodes? How do these little insects do it?
Ants understand the power of community. Where there is one ant, there are plenty more ants to follow, and ants firmly believe in leaving no other ant behind. These tiny, industrious insects do everything in community—eat together, live together, work together. Ants, in all of their smallness, understand the power of community.
No, we are not ants—but we do have something in common with them. Like ants, the key to our thriving is community unified by righteous drive found in Christ. Godly friends don’t lead others into danger or a ditch. Proverbs 12:26 puts it this way, “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” In the same way that ants lead each other one by one to the delicious picnic morsels, godly friends walk in the same direction—toward the upward call of Jesus (Philippians 3:14). He’s the motivation. He’s the prize. Hebrews 12 describes the Christian life as a race with Jesus as the goal—and as we run, we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.
If words can form a pathway for our friends, godly friends pave that path with truth. In a famous scene from the film “A Few Good Men,” Jack Nicholson as Colonel Nathan R. Jessup shouts from the witness stand, “You can’t handle the truth!” Sometimes, we withhold the truth in attempts to spare our friends and loved ones, or even to save ourselves. That is not righteous honesty. We always lovingly speak the truth because how can we be righteous guides if we are dishonest? Withholding the truth creates opportunity for strife and separation. Righteous honesty is always part of loving well.
When we are Christ-centered friends, we encourage others to pursue abundant life by cheering them on to pursue Jesus, and offering truthful compassion. How privileged are we to get to walk with friends and witness the will and presence of God in their lives?