worshipping woman.jpgGuest Post by Pastor John Martin 
The other day I saw a large anthill built in a crevice in the concrete.  Out from this anthill were two columns of ants.  The outgoing column of ants headed toward the “fields” to “work”, while the incoming column returned to the colony with his or her “harvest”. Each returning ant brought something back with him or her.  Not one returned empty-handed.  They were preparing for the “season” when they gather and enjoy the year’s “harvest”.  In my eyes their “gifts” surely did not amount to much.  A tiny seed, a scratch of paper, and a miniscule blade of grass – the size of each item is so small that it seemed to me an utter waste of time and energy.  But when the collection is accumulated it results in a bountiful harvest and a season of rejoicing for the colony.
Lesson from the Ant
Here’s the key: Each ant was working for the benefit of the whole colony.  They were not concerned about their individual goals or accomplishments.  Yet, their individual offerings were hugely important. Each one of them worked to bring their “gift” back to the colony.  As I watched, I realized that this is exactly what God wants to happen within our churches. 
God wants each of us to “labor” and bring our “gifts”, no matter how small, into the “storehouse” so that all may benefit from it.  This is how we are to work together to prepare for our weekly “season of praise” when we gather with our fellow believers.
It is not gifted speakers, wonderful worship leaders, or talented musicians that bring the greatest praise to the Lord.  It is not hymns, choruses, or a blending of the two that glorify Him the most.  God receives the greatest pleasure and glory when each of His children comes together with his or her own unique gift and sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). This praise gift is not based on our personal preferences or ego. Rather, it flows from love and concern for God, while preferring others within the congregation; It requires us each to do our part for the entire body of Christ.
We each have different gifts and styles, according to the grace of God given to us. If a man’s gift is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully (Romans 12:5-8).  These very acts of kindness, these fruits from our lives, are sacrifices of praise that we can offer to God (Hebrews 13:16).
Bringing Our Gift of Praise
So, the next time you go to a worship gathering at your church, be determined at that moment to bring a simple offering of pure praise to your God.  Though you may think your gift of praise is “small” and insignificant compared to others, remember this: If you, like the ant, have properly prepared for that “season of praise” with your fellow believers, if you have surrendered your heart and are presenting your best offering of worship to Him, then you can join in with the rejoicing!
Let us learn a lesson from the ant and work together for the common good of lifting our Savior!  “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways and be wise.” (Proverbs 6:6)
John Martin is pastor of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Waycross, GA. He can be contacted at john at pvbcwaycross dot org.