First, do no harm
The bee lives to make honey. In doing this, she never cuts a single leaf, never eats another bug, and can accomplish her life’s mission without damaging, killing, or harming anything or anyone. The honeybee extracts sweetness and makes the world more fruitful and lush. What a way to live.
Too many of us survive off of the faults we find in others: complaints about customer service, disgust with politicians, and finding faults in our children, parents and other relatives. Rather than be like docile honeybees, we become mad hornets buzzing through life seeking what we may devour.
I want it to be my goal to not do any harm. I want to draw out the best in others. Rather than point out someone’s faults, obvious or not, I want to see the good in him or her. The honeybee has to dig pretty deep sometimes to find the sweet nectar in a plant. Some plants are ugly and you would never think anything good could come from it. What if you became as thorough in your approach to all of God’s creation and draw out every little drop of sweetness in each person you know, no matter how gnarly and scarred he may be?
Bees pollinate about 80% of our fruits and vegetables. If all bees died off, we would starve. As the bee digs out the nectar from each flower, it picks up the pollen which fertilizes the next one. Fruit and seeds form as a side effect of this little insect’s daily habit. What would the world be like if our living consisted in finding others’ greatness? Would your friends and family be more fruitful, more productive in their callings and life purposes if you just dug at their qualities?
Harmony in the hive
The honeybee cannot exist alone. It has to have the colony in the hive to survive. While a close examination of the honeybee reveals that it is a lot like any other insect, the bee colony functions as a whole and takes on the characteristics of a full-size animal: it stores up energy (honey), has an emergency response system (like sensory nerves), communicates messages from the queen to the colony (like a brain sending messages to the muscles), and the bees attack together when they face trouble.
The body of Christ should be like the honeybee colony: no one can exist alone, we each have our individual jobs, we pray together, worship together, grow together, and encourage each one in his or her individual calling. The Spirit, our queen of the hive, should lead us into all truth and righteous living. We should the church defend against outside invaders and evil influences.
A home should function like this, as well. Rather than the queen of the house just barking out orders or griping at the kids, the family should work for one goal and produce enough sweetness for others to harvest and feed on.
When a hive gets overcrowded, part of the colony will swarm. The queen prepares another queen to replace her and then leaves the hive with many of the bees. They go off to another location to start a whole new colony. The old hive follows the leadership of the new queen and life goes on. Churches should do this as well. Rather than just build a bigger and bigger hive, we need to send out groups of people to plant new churches in other communities. I am not sure the biblical goal is for us to break the Guinness book of records for having the largest church. The gospel spreads fastest by being available in many cities and neighborhoods. Perhaps church splits are a negative thing that could be turned into a positive thing. It is simply time for a swarm to leave the mother brood and bring sweet fruitfulness to another location. These things must be done with love and humility, not a spirit of rebellion.
When you must hurt others
Honeybees can hurt, though. If threatened, bees are designed to attack with their stingers. This fatal defense mechanism really does no harm, however. There is a wide difference between hurting someone and harming her. The bee’s stinger does not kill, it only causes pain for a moment. Sometimes you have to say something painful or make a decision which will leave someone unhappy with you. Temporary discomfort can be healthy. Permanent injury is not.
If you must hurt someone, do it for the right reasons. Any hurts done in the wrong spirit only create harm. Do not just say or do things for the sake of getting back at someone. Anything hurtful must be considered carefully if it will be better in the long run. Punishing your child might be such a situation. Speaking to your spouse about a destructive habit may be another.
Overall, however, you and I can learn a lot from the humble honeybee. Let’s live in a non-damaging way. Let’s hunt out the sweetness in others. Let’s make the world more abundant and fruitful as we direct our energies toward our calling and not our carnality. Rather than finding fault with others, let’s dwell on what is pure, peaceful, and of good report. You will be amazed at how your world blossoms in response.