Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; conies are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces. (Proverbs 30:24-28)
This builds on Small But Smart (Parts 1 and 2)
God’s General Revelation
About 1600 years ago, Augustine of Hippo also known as Saint Augustine called people to consider the Lord’s book of nature. He said: “Look above you! Look below you! Read God’s creation. Jesus didn’t write His creation with ink. Instead, He set before your eyes all the things He has made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?”1 Augustine was talking about God’s general or natural revelation. We get knowledge about God and spiritual matters through observing nature. Romans chapter 1 says that this knowledge of God is plainly available to all humankind so that we are without excuse. Here in Proverbs 30, Christ calls us to look at and listen to His little creatures.
Locusts (Grasshoppers) Excel in Teamwork
Locusts are large flying grasshoppers. They usually live alone and come together to mate. Sometimes their population explodes, then they move in large swarms and can cause extensive damage to crops. They are nobody’s favorite animal. When they swarm and attack they eat crops, grasses, and any other vegetation in their way. They can strip a field of crops in hours, eating all the leaves and fruit from trees fast. They travel in huge numbers, by the millions or billions, sometimes so thick that they make the sunlight dim on earth.
In 2020, locust swarms were the worst experienced in Kenya for 70 years. That year locusts also did great damage in Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, India, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. One source called it, “The Biblical Locust Plagues of 2020,” recalling the pestilence God sent near the Exodus.2 Locust plagues are destructive, but God calls us to constructive teamwork, building up His kingdom. What do the Scriptures say on this topic?
Ecclesiastes on Teamwork
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up….Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Comment: The Lord calls believers to cooperation and collaboration, rather than unhealthy competition which is often rooted in coveting and envy. Teamwork in God’s family protects us and makes us successful in doing the Lord’s work. Christ never calls us to “go it alone” in following Him. We need each other to give and receive help and encouragement. We need friends to assist us with life’s challenges. The harder times are, the more valuable friends become. Like the locusts, ants, and conies, there is strength in numbers.
Corinthians on Teamwork
1 Corinthians 12:20-25 There are many parts, but one body (of Christ). The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor….But God has put the body (of Christ) together…so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
Comment: Christians are not all the same. We have different spiritual gifts and we are different physically, socially, and temperamentally. But we are to be one in faith and fellowship and in our mutual concern for each other. Our unity is not based on things in common we created, but upon God’s saving work for us and in us. We have the same God and Father, who is over all and through all and in all. We have Jesus as our one Lord and Savior who purchased us with His own blood on the cross. We are indwelt and empowered by the same Holy Spirit who works in us righteousness, peace, joy, love, and hope in Christ’s return for us. What Christians have in common is far more important than what divides us. So God calls us to, “Make every effort to keep (guard, maintain, preserve) the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”3
Locusts Have No King; Christians Have Jesus as King
Proverbs 30:27 says: “Locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks.” They have no leader as far as we can tell, nothing equivalent to the queen ant (the reproducing female ant in a colony) or the queen bee. Leaderless groups are often weak, disorganized, chaotic. They need a head, manager, or boss to order things. The human body has a brain, a family has parents, a country or company has a president. A class has a teacher and a school has an administrator. A church has a group of elders, no presbyterian popes!
So teamwork among God’s people happens when every Christian submits to Christ as our Leader, Head, Commanding Officer. Here are just a few passages:
- Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords.4
- He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.5
- God the Father raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the heavenly places, far above all rule, authority, power, and dominion, and above every name in this age and also in the age to come.6
- Jesus is the Son of Man and all peoples, nations, and languages must serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom shall never be destroyed.7
These Scriptures and the whole Bible call us to understand and submit to Jesus’ rightful rule over us. That’s the secret to real teamwork. Our world teaches autonomy, independence, me-centeredness, and self-serving. But Christ calls us to love, honor, respect, depend on, obey, and sacrifice ourselves for Him.
Prayer: Lord, help us show that we love you by keeping your commandments by the Holy Spirit’s power. Help us to not merely listen to your word, and so deceive ourselves. Help us to keep it and do what it says. Make your home in us and help us to put your Kingship first in our lives. Then you will provide all the other things that we need as well. Amen.8
To be continued. See Small But Smart (Part 4).
Notes (various translations): 1 Adapted from The Essential Augustine, p. 123. 2 David Njagi, August 6, 2020, bbc.com. See also Exodus 10:1-20. 3 Eph 4:1-6. 4 1 Tim 6:15; Rev 17:14; 19:16. 5 Isaiah 9:6-7. 6 Eph 1:20-21. 7 Dan 7:13-14. 8 Prayer based on John 14:15; James 1:22; Matt 6:33.