I’m sorry – this isn’t a self-help article.  I don’t have three easy ways of doing anything in life.  But I can say definitively that you, Christian, are absolutely a honeypot ant, whether you like it or not.  The question is, will you be life-giving honeypot ant or a life-quenching honeypot ant?

How to Get Rid of Honeypot Ants

Have you ever heard of this bizarre creature?  They’re awfully fun, if not absolutely horrific.  They fulfill a very specific purpose in their short lives, and that is to become what some consider a living canteen.  As you may notice in the photo, their bodies bloat with honey and nectar that they gorge themselves on until some reach the size of grapes….  Then, they make rounds throughout their colony’s work area, regurgitating their cargo into the mouths of their friends.

I didn’t state that this was an animal you may want to mirror, did I?  No, I don’t imagine you might take this idea as a compliment, but regardless, allow me to explain.

The God that we serve is a communal God.  He existed in three persons since before the beginning of time (John 1:1-5) and all three persons (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) were present and active all along.  In that eternal relationship, He created mankind (Genesis 1:26 – “Let Us make mankind…”), but He didn’t just create us.  In our creation, we were in His image.  The text shows us that His image explicitly demonstrates community.  So there you have it – our basis for community being found on the first pages of the Scriptures.  Therefore, community and relationships are incredibly important.

Close-up of three large replete honeypot ants (Myrmecocystus mimicus) at Oakland Zoo. via Wikimedia Commons

Fast forward a great length of time and you will find the book of Acts.  In those pages, we are introduced to a man whom I have heard so many, including myself, wish to emulate.  His name was Joseph – “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36).  Oh yes, you may remember him better by this given name – Barnabas – because he was an incredibly encouraging person.  God’s Word emphasizes this because it was such a useful and beneficial quality to the Body of Christ.  Later, in Acts 9:27, Luke writes that “Barnabas took [Saul/Paul, this massively impactful evangelist and missionary in our Scriptures] and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.”  This event shows a man who persecuted the Church and murdered and imprisoned many people in the name of God, and yet this son of encouragement – Barnabas – was the one person who stood by his side with all the untrusting eyes making their judgments.  People who surely experienced persecution at the hands of this man were now being asked to welcome in their persecutor.  And Barnabas was the encouragement that Paul leaned on in those difficult moments.  Paul, the one who God used to write so much of the New Testament and, with His guiding hand, built so many of the doctrines that we look to today to understand the majesty of our God, could have been chased off on day one if it weren’t for the encourager who pleaded his case.

That’s the spectacular image of the honeypot ant that we’re meant to be.  One who nourishes others with the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23 – … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control …) that oozes out of them.  This illustration expands, however, with the image below. 

The abdomen of each ant morphed into a distinct color, as seen here (Image Credit: Dr. Mohamed Babu)

Do you see where we’re going with this?  Scientists experimented with these ants and found that, when they added food coloring to the food which the ants ingested, the transparent shell over the abdomen would actually display the color of that which they ate.  If they ate green nectar, one could see it while looking at the ant.  And if the ant attempted to feed that nectar to a friend, green nectar would be what was regurgitated to that friend.  What if that green food was poisonous?  The ant would pass the poison along to their friends and, rather than bringing nourishment, they would effectively kill those they come in contact with.

This is the passage that comes to mind: Matthew 7:15-20 – 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Like these Honeypot Ants, we feed those around us.  We can choose to become like Barnabas where the people in our vicinity are encouraged and strengthened by what we live out.  We can find our purpose in shifting others’ gazes to God and propelling them forward in their walk with Christ. 

Or, we can find ourselves regurgitating harmful mentalities.  We can take our idolatry of anxiety and anger and stir that up in the hearts of those in our community.  Let us determine to only stir up in others that Fruit of the Spirit which marks a good tree and avoid having our efforts burnt up in His refining fire (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

Love you all,

Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff

3 Easy Ways to Become the Honeypot Ant You Were Born to Be

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