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A Sermon on Six Legs



“A Sermon on Six Legs”

Ants are fascinating creatures. Whether it was a cruel moment in our youth with a magnifying glass turned against an innocent six-legged creature, or an interrupted picnic, we have all thought about ants at one time or another.

Our Scripture today invites us to consider the ant. Did you know there are over 11,000 kinds of ants? There are so many ants, that if you rolled them all into one ball and placed it on a scale, and you rolled all humans into a ball and placed them on a scale, the weight of the ants would be equal to, or slightly greater than the weight of all humans.

Ants are fascinating. They can live up to 30 years, can carry over 100 times their body weight, and some kinds of ants travel a distance on their little legs daily, that would equate to you and me walking 68 miles in a single day.

Ants are industrious. They are hard-working. They all have a task and work for a communal purpose. Someone has said, “Ants never take a vacation, but they do go to a lot of picnics.” Today, Solomon is going to ask us to consider our work. Before we get into the text, I want you to know this “work” is not just your job. The principles in our text apply to our job, schooling, housekeeping, and even our ministry.


A wise person works hard.


Proverbs 6:6-11

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise.

7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,

she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.

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.

It is more important to be a hard-worker than it is to be a hero. 

We all love a good hero. We love to read stories of great exploits and great deeds. But Solomon is saying to us today that it is more important to be a hard-worker than it is to be a hero. Like an ant, it is important for us to keep working, even if no one is watching. It is important for us to keep working, even if we don’t get any glory. Let’s break this text down.

  1. The Declaration
    • Verse 6 says, “Go to the ant, O sluggard.”
    • This is a command. Stop and take a moment and consider the ant.
    • The declaration is directed towards one described as a sluggard. What is a sluggard? In the Old Testament, the English word sluggard is only used fourteen times. Every one of these occurrences is in the book of Proverbs.
    • The sluggard is “a person who is habitually lazy and inactive, suggesting he has no discipline or initiative, as a moral failure.” (Louw-Nida Lexicon)
    • What are the characteristics of a sluggard?
      1. A sluggard is idle.
        • He doesn’t move. He is stationary.
        • For example, Proverbs 19:24 says, “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.”
        • The word picture here is that the sluggard can not even be bothered to feed himself. He can stick his hand in a dish, but not bring the food to his mouth.
        • Proverbs 26:15 adds to this by saying, “The sluggard buries his hands in the dish; it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.”
        • The sluggard idle. He is lazy.
      2. The sluggard is irrational.
        • Proverbs 26:13 says, “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets.’”
        • Instead of working, the sluggard gives ridiculous excuses as to why they cannot work. The sluggard is irrational.
      3. The sluggard is illogical.
        • Proverbs 20:4 says, “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.”
        • The sluggard does  not seek to plow, plant, or prosper, and yet he expends the land to produce. It is illogical.
      4. The sluggard is irritating.
        • Proverbs 10:26 says, “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him.”
        • Vinegar irritates the teeth. Smoke irritates the eyes. And the sluggard irritates those who deal with him.
      5. The sluggard is irresponsible.
        • Proverbs 24:30 says, “I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered by nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.”
        • The sluggard has, he just doesn’t do! There is not a lack of resources; there is a lack of movement and motivation.
        • The sluggard is a poor steward. He has been blessed with plenty but does nothing with the opportunity. 
      6. So, the sluggard is idle, irrational, illogical, and irresponsible. If this describes you, Solomon is saying, “Consider the ant.”
  2. The Description.
    1. Solomon now gives us a description of the ant.
    2. The ant is independent.
      • Look at verse 7. “Without any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer.”
      • The ant doesn’t need anyone to tell them to get a job down. It is independent. It doesn’t need someone standing over them barking out commands.
      • The ant knows her job and does her job. The ant doesn’t need anyone to tell them to work; they know they were made to work.
      • And so were you!
    3. The ant is industrious.
      • The ant is not only independent, it doesn’t need someone to tell it what to do, it is also industrious. It does something. “The ant gathers her food in harvest.”
      • The ant works! It is productive. It accomplishes something.
      • The settlers that first came to these great shores did not come because they were compelled to, but because they dreamed of forging a new life. They risked their very lives to cross the Atlantic Ocean and worked out an existence in a virgin land.
      • The pioneers that blazed a trail from the East Coast, through the plains, over the mountains, and to the mighty Pacific. They were not led to do so. They worked for a better land.
      • The great captains of industry, the creators and inventors of old did not follow the beat of a drummer. They worked their fingers to the bone and their bodies to fatigue to make the United States a great nation!
      • Where are the explorers? Where are the pioneers? Where are the inventors today? We have been weakened as a nation because we are not willing to work.
      • But this is not just in the field of industry. It is in the field of ministry too.
      • In days gone by, brave men and women would ride thousands of miles to preach the word of God to unrepentant souls. Families would get up early, milk the cows, care for the flocks, feed themselves, and still find a way to get to God’s House on time.
      • Missionaries would venture into strange lands, with strange tongues, strange customs, strange diseases, and strange foods, and work to sow the seed of the Gospel on the fertile soil of the human heart. Many were sick, many died, many were martyred, not because they were compelled to by man, but because they wanted to please God.
    4.  Where are the evangelists, where are the preachers, where are the teachers, where are the leaders, where are the families who are working the harvest fields of souls? We have become weak as a church because too few are willing to work.
    5.  “Go to the ant, O sluggard. Consider your ways.”
  3. The Decision
    • Having given us a description of the ant, Solomon now calls for a decision. Verse 9, “How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?”
    • The sluggards day begins like everyone else’s day: in bed. But the sluggard lays in bed and stays in bed and decides to do nothing.
    • The sluggard and the ant have the same desire: both wish to stay in bed. But the ant gets up and gets moving.
    • Everyday you are presented with an opportunity: do something, or do nothing. Choose something! Get up and do something. Get up and try something. Get up and accomplish something.
    • If you are a student, study hard. If you are an employee, work hard. If you are a Christian, work hard for the Lord!!!!
  4. The Destruction
    • For if you fail to work hard, you will fall into destruction. Notice verse 10. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber and want like an armed man.”
    • When you fail to work you rob yourself! Does this mean that we can never take a break? NO. Does this mean we can never have a vacation? NO. Does this mean we should neglect the Sabbath? NO. But there is a warning of destruction for those who are willing to stop working! 
    • This does not mean all lazy people are poor and that all poor people are lazy. Not at all. But it means if you rest too much you will lose out on the reward of your labor.

Let me ask you a few diagnostic questions, to see if you are more of an ant or a sluggard.

  1. Do you tend to work hard only when someone is watching? An ant works independently. 
  2. Do you like sleeping more than serving? An ant works industriously.
  3. Do you abuse what you have been given? An an works influentially.
  4. Do you work well with others? An ant works interconnectedly.
  5. Do you think before you act? An ant works intellectually.
  6. Do you give up or give out? An ant works inexhaustibly. 

Go to the Ant, O Sluggard. Consider her ways.


Let me give a few applications  before we wrap up our study today. 

  • Be wise: contemplate the way of the ant.
  • Be wise: chose to be  hard-working, at home, at school, at play, in the mission field.
  • Be wise: commit yourself to slumbering less and serving more.
  • Be wise: complete the work given to you so that you will avoid destruction.

Christ kept seeking, Christ kept searching, Christ kept serving until the work of the cross was done. It wasn’t until then that He said, “It is finished. The work has been accomplished.” It was then, and only then, that he stopped working. And you, my fellow ants, are to keep working until Christ comes again.


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