What would you do if you had only 42 days to live? Would you spend the last six weeks of your life working from sunup to sundown—time after time delivering a cargo that weighs almost as much as you do? Would you do that hundreds of times a day? Would you do all that for 42 days just so you could produce a teaspoon of honey?
Well, if you were a honeybee, you would. Each day she leaves her hive to visit hundreds of flowers, searching for nectar. After arriving back at the hive, she uses up about 20 minutes of her precious time to unload her nectar. Then it is off chasing flowers again—from sun-up to sun-down each day, all for just a thimble-full of honey.
After just six short weeks after hatching, she is exhausted, wing-weary, and worn out. She leaves her hive for the last time, and she goes out into the fields to die. She never complained about it, but “Miss Bee” didn’t get much time to enjoy life. Actually, she spent her entire life helping other bees. All of the honey she produced was stored for use by bees she would never see. All she used was enough for “fuel” to fly to and from the nectar sources. That’s pretty unselfish! She may have produced only a couple ounces of honey, but she did all she could. And because her fellow workers did all they could do too, the hive ended up making between 30 and 60 pounds (2 1/2 – 5 gallons) of honey in one summer’s work. That’s a lot of teaspoons! And, that’s a lot of teamwork! To make one pound of honey, bees visit approximately two million flowers and fly more than 55,000 miles! Talk about dedicated workers! A true wonder of God’s creation!!
We can learn much from the creatures God has made and the honey bee can teach us a lot about how God want’s us to live.
1) First, He wants us to learn how to do things to help others. He doesn’t want us to act like we did when we were babies—always wanting someone to do things for us, and fussing until they do. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Do nothing from selfish or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus”’ (Phil. 2:3-5). We are to follow Jesus’ example. He said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45). So, if you are not satisfied with your “lot” in life, build a service station on it!
2) Also, God wants us to understand that everything we do for Him—no matter how small—is important. Remember the story of the poor widow who put into the Temple treasury chest two small copper coins—worth a penny. Jesus said that she “put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on” (Mk. 12:41-44). And don’t forget what Jesus was able to do with a boy’s lunch of five barley loaves and two fish—He fed 5,000 men plus women and children and they collected 12 baskets of leftovers (Jn. 6:1-13). Nothing is too small or unimportant when placed in God’s hands. “Little is much when God is in it!”
3) Finally, think about the importance of team work (More about that next week). While one forager bee can only collect a couple ounces of nectar for honey, collectively the thousands of workers in the hive can produce up to 60 pounds (5 gallons) of honey in one summer! What if each bee decided that since her work didn’t amount to much she wouldn’t bother to contribute to the hive? “I think I will just keep it for myself. I worked hard for it. Let others fend for themselves!” With that attitude the hive wouldn’t survive and we wouldn’t benefit from the honey they produce in abundance beyond their own needs. Team work is so important in the Body of Christ. Paul stressed in his letters to the churches that God has given us each special abilities called spiritual gifts that are to be used “for the common good” ( I Cor. 12:7). He said that “the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies; according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16). Maybe it seems to you that your part in the Body is so insignificant that “why bother?” But, there are no unimportant parts of the Body. We are all needed for the proper functioning and growth of the Body of Christ, the Church.
Are you giving unselfishly of your time and talents and treasures? Are you contributing what you have, no matter how small it seems to you? Are you working as a team player, adding your part to the success of the team? Let’s learn from the bees!