“A Bug's Life”

“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.”

Proverbs 6:6-8

Scripture often appeals to nature to teach valuable lessons. Jesus tells us to “look at the birds” and “consider the lilies” to learn how to live anxiety-free lives by trusting in God’s provision (Mt. 6:25-34). Proverbs tells us to “go to the ant” to learn the value of diligence and personal responsibility (Prov. 6:6-8). Other insects are used as metaphors: locusts were symbols of devouring destruction (Ex. 10:4; Joel 1:4; Rev. 9:3); the Canaanites would be driven out of their land as if chased by a swarm of angry hornets (Ex. 23:29; Deut. 7:20); grasshoppers stood for human frailty (Num. 13:33; Isa. 40:22); moths were symbolic of impermanence and decay (Job 4:19; Mt. 6:19). Perhaps we could draw two more lessons from a bug’s life and apply them to the church.

There are moths and there are roaches. Moths are attracted to light due to a phenomenon knows as “positive phototaxis”—a behavioral response where an organism moves toward the light. It’s easy to understand why plants do this (to begin photosynthesis) but scientists do not fully understand why moths do it. Whatever the reason, moths always fly toward light while roaches always flee from it (“negative phototaxis”). Roaches hide from the light because they are nocturnal creatures and darkness provides cover from predators. They thrive in the dark where they can reproduce in the safety of cooler, humid conditions.

Spiritually speaking, God’s word shines like a light which guides and protects (Psa. 119:105, 130) but also exposes. Paul exhorts us to “walk as children of light” and to “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them… when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible” (Eph. 5:11-13). How do we respond when the light of God’s word shines on us, perhaps even exposing our hidden sin? Do we draw closer to God by walking in the light or do we flee from it and choose the cover of darkness? (1 Jn. 1:5-10) Are you a moth or a roach?

There are bees and there are ticks. Bees are attracted to flowers as a main food source. While on the flower collecting nectar, grains of pollen stick to the bees. The bees then fly to other flowers depositing the pollen and fertilizing them in an amazing process called pollination. Both bees and flowers benefit. Ticks, on the other hand, are parasites. They attach themselves to a host and feed on their blood to survive. Unlike bees which cause life to flourish, ticks spread diseases. Unlike bees which benefit the flowers they are receiving from, ticks help themselves and harm their host.

In the church, there is a necessary give-and-take as we serve one another in love (Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 4:10). Always conscious of one another’s well-being, we want to follow the way of the bee. That is, our relationships ought to be mutually encouraging (Rom. 1:12; 14:19). Even when being served by another, we can have a refreshing influence on them (Philem. 1:20) by being sincerely grateful for their help and seeking ways to serve others because we know “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Through this kind of spiritual pollination, when each member serves in the way it can, the Lord causes the church to grow (Eph. 4:15-16). The church cannot grow when its members only take and never give. Instead of spiritually revitalizing others, some have a draining effect. In only feeding off the service of others and never giving of themselves, they spread the disease of discouragement in the church. Beware the leaven of the ticks! Ask yourself these questions:

  1. When meeting with other Christians, do you ever ask about their life, what’s important to them, how they are doing? Or do you monopolize the conversation and focus only on your life and your problems?
  2. Do you seek opportunities to help other Christians by praying or studying with them, helping them finish a project, babysitting, inviting them for dinner, etc.? Or are you constantly soliciting their service?
  3. When coming to worship God, do you greet others warmly, welcome visitors, offer assistance and words of encouragement? Or do you complain about other’s behavior, grumble that the singing was off key or the sermon was too long and you didn’t get much out of it?

Whereas roaches are truth-averse because they find the darkness comfortable, ticks are allergic to generosity because they haven’t learned to put others before themselves (Phil. 2:3-5). Let’s be like moths, not hiding in the darkness of sin but living in the light of God’s word. Let’s be like bees, not merely receiving but also giving of ourselves.