The story of the ant and the grasshopper is an interesting story. In the original fable by Aesop, the ant works hard gathering and storing food while the grasshopper refuses to work and plays merrily all through the summer. Then, winter hits. The grasshopper isn’t singing anymore. Frozen and starving, the grasshopper goes to the ant’s home and begs for food. The ant reminds him that while the grasshopper was playing, the ant was working. Now the ant could relax and enjoy the fruits of his labor and perhaps the grasshopper should just keep playing. While there have been many interpretations since then, the message is clear. We should work now because the reward later is worth the labor.
It is a message that Christians believe in our understanding of our relationship with Christ. We endure hardships in this life because we have a future worth looking forward to. This is especially true in regards to the troubles we endure because we follow Christ. To a church that was undergoing persecution, this concept would keep them going. Paul encouraged the Roman church with these words: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
As Christians, we do have a different lifestyle. Many people would look at us and think about all the things we give up. If you really think about it, the things we give up are actually destructive to our lives. I make a point of not “naming sins” because I think that God has to do that work in each individual person, but as I think about my life before Christ, I didn’t want to follow Christ because I knew what I would have to give up. I’ve heard other people make that same comment. The truth I discovered about that is that while I might have thought I was enjoying those things, they were nothing compared to the amazing joy of walking with God in His mercy and grace. I may endure some teasing and be ostracized at times for my stand, but that’s nothing compared to the feeling of living in God’s love.
The reality of the situation is that Paul was talking about situations far worse than “giving up” some worldly pleasures. He was talking to people whose families had disowned them for coming to Christ; people who lost business or jobs for following Jesus; people who were persecuted with imprisonments, beatings, and death because they had committed their lives to Jesus Christ. People who were going through those things that Paul himself had already gone through. It’s like Paul is looking back at each imprisonment, beating, and time he was left for dead and responded by saying, “That was nothing compared to what lies ahead.” Whatever the sacrifices we may make, whatever the problems we may face, they are nothing compared to the glory of what lies ahead.
Oh Lord, nothing I could give up compares with what You gave up. You gave Your Only Son so that we could be in fellowship with You now and forever. Nothing I endure could compare with what He endured or the glory of my life forever with You. Help me to experience Your joy daily and share it with others.