The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;
Ants are wise. You think they are one of the weakest creatures, but they have wisdom that many men do not have. They save part of all income to use later in life. They work hard when the getting is good, and with an eye to the future, they save for harder times.
Solomon also used the ant to illustrate economic wisdom, when he exhorted his son to consider their diligence, their initiative without supervision, and their foresight to prepare and save for the future (Pr 6:6-8). Are you as wise as the ant, or can you learn a lesson from them? Do you have a regular savings program? Do you leave it untouched to grow?
Though ants are very weak – you may crush hundreds of them with a single foot – they use wisdom to preserve and protect themselves. In fact, they prosper by their wisdom. In the summer, they work diligently to accumulate as much food as possible, which they eat during the fall and spring, when underground. They generally hibernate in the winter.
Wise men do not spend all income; only fools spend it all (Pr 21:20). Saving some of your income is not an option or suggestion – it is God’s commandment. You are to learn from the ants (Pr 6:6-8; 30:25); savings protects you from unforeseen danger in the future (Pr 27:12). Not saving some of your income is sinful presumption (Pr 12:27; 27:24).
Savings must be a priority in life, not an option for money left over after expenses. If a commitment to savings is not made before spending occurs, it will not be done. Paying bills is paying others; saving money is paying yourself. Godly economics is simple: pay God first (tithes and offerings), pay yourself second (consistent savings), and live on the rest. There is no need for fancy budgets or financial models – live on whatever is left.
What you save is what you pay yourself. What you spend is what you pay others. How much do you have for all the years of sweat, toil, difficulty, and frustration of working? You have nothing left from all those years, except your savings account and net assets. Is paying yourself – saving some of your income – starting to make sense? Thank you, ants!
Saving less than 10% of gross income is playing games. Wise men will save at least 10%. The change in lifestyle to save 10% is insignificant, if prudence is practiced elsewhere. Many employers today will match your savings in a 401(k) plan. A simple savings program is easy. You pay God first (10%+), yourself second (10%+), and live on the rest. By living on 80% of your income, you will appreciate things more (Pr 27:7). Try it!
Savings creates another benefit – capital! See the important comments on Proverbs 14:4. Every man will have a few opportunities in his life – called time and chance in the Bible – to make big money (Ec 9:11). But you must have capital – savings – to take advantage of these opportunities. Some call this investment capital seed corn, for it is the seed that is planted for a future harvest. The ant’s wisdom has taught you savings and investment.
You never touch savings. It is for the future – dire emergencies and opportunities. If the ants took vacations and ate their food stores, they would die in the fall and spring, when they need those food stores. If you need extra cash for unusual expenses during the year, it comes from cash management and other reserve funds; it does not come from savings. Your saved capital is not to be touched; your seed corn is not to be eaten!
If you invest your capital conservatively and wisely, it will grow during all the hours of the day and night. If you buy bonds, you are earning interest every second of every day and night (Matt 25:26-27). If you buy stocks, you have many people in many companies around the earth working for you every day and night. You are leveraging your limited ability and effort by the multiplied abilities and efforts of many others. Thank you, ants!
Financial success requires diligence, discipline, sacrifice, consistency, and time. The ants do all five well (Pr 6:6-8; 30:25). Diligence is working hard to maximize your income. Discipline is paying the Lord first and yourself second, before spending even a dime. Sacrifice is doing without a few toys and luxuries you want. Consistency is doing it without interruption during your productive years. Time is what allows savings to grow.
If your estate is small and your savings negligible, reader, it is because you have ignored the ants and Solomon’s wisdom. Have you never heard that you ought to save at least 10% of your income for the future – for emergencies and opportunities? Have you never heard? Or are you more foolish than the ants, which save without a ruler or guide?
Preparing for your eternal future is far better than preparing for your financial future. Here is wisdom in its brightest and purest form. As the unjust steward protected himself from unemployment, Jesus exhorted His children to protect themselves from that great accounting to take place in the last day (Luke 16:1-16). Have you looked to the future and laid up a good foundation against the time to come (I Tim 6:17-19)? The Lord Jesus Christ will come soon, and you will face an emergency like no other. Save up for it!