“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
Provides her [food] in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.”
Here the Holy Spirit directs us to a lesson in nature.
He directs us to the ants; to consider the ways of the ants, so that we
might increase in wisdom. It is quite a specific lesson, and the lesson is divided into two main parts.
#1. In their work, the ants have no guide, no overseer, no ruler.
#2. But in spite of this, they provide their food [along with a wise reserve,] in the time of opportunity. They are working without having to be "told" what to do.
As a ‘people’, the ants have a zeal – a tremendous zeal -- that is born of instinct, and it is by “instinct” that God directs them. Therefore they are not without discipline and order.
The danger that is commonly seen with this lesson, is that if the church were to abandon the ‘normal’ leadership structure, then we would be left with chaos. The people would become independent “atoms”; everyone would do their own thing, and nothing significant would ever get done. And yes, without the Holy Spirit, this must be inevitable.
The Holy Spirit would have us feel our need of one another. He would have us feel our need of unity and organization, for the purpose of reaching the lost. With the ants, it is instinct that constrains them [that presses them forward, imparting the zeal that is necessary for their survival]; but for the Christian the constraining power is love. Love in the heart is the only power that will move us forward, and truly unite us as a working body of people.
The truly humble Christian will look for the hand of experience; they will seek the bonds of fellowship, knowing that “where no counsel is, the people fall” – that is, crumble into factions and come to nothing.
- - - - -
"For years I have been instructed that there is danger, constant danger,
that our brethren will look to their fellow men for permission to do
this or that, instead of looking to God. Thus they become weaklings, and
permit themselves to be bound with man-made restrictions disapproved by
God. The Lord can impress minds and consciences to do His work under
bonds to Him, and in a spirit of fraternity [i.e. unity] that is in accordance
with the principles of His law. . . . (Testimonies Vol. 8 p. 232)
“No human being is to seek to bind other human beings to himself, as if
he were to control them, telling them to do this, and forbidding them to
do that, commanding, dictating, acting like an officer over a company
of soldiers. This is the way the priests and rulers did in Christ's day,
but it is not the right way. After the truth has made the impression
upon hearts, and men and women have accepted its teachings, they are to
be treated as the property of Christ, not as the property of man. In
fastening minds to yourself, you lead them to disconnect from the Source
of their wisdom and sufficiency. Their dependence must be wholly in
God; only thus can they grow in grace.” (Gospel Workers p. 484)