Ants are good teachers for us when it comes to avoiding laziness and a lack of discipline in our lives. The father here uses ants to teach his son a lesson about avoiding the sin of laziness.
Having told his son to go to the ant and observe her ways - he says that wisdom is with these little creatures. Their great wisdom is how they work hard without having to be supervised. They have no chief, officer, or ruler watching over all that they do - making them work. The ant knows that there is a time when gathering won't be possible - so he works hard when he can. He also knows to store things up - to prepare for the times when there will be no food.
The lessons for us are numerous. First, we need to have a self-driven work ethic. This is an ability to work hard - even when no one is looking. It means that when we know what to do - we do it. We don't need someone looking over our shoulders - or standing over us making sure that we work hard. We are motivated from within to do that. When I talk to the businessmen in my congregation my heart aches for them. They say that it is so difficult to find people who want to work. They tell me that most of the people they interview have great expectations for what they will be paid and how they will be treated - but almost no work ethic to do what they should do. What is even more sad to me is that they tell me that this is the case whether they are non-christians or christians. That is an indictment that we should not have laid at the feet of the church. We should have a work ethic driven by a desire to honor God.
The second lesson is also important for us to grasp. We need to be wise in how we deal with our money - setting aside funds for times when things are lean. History warns us that these time will come. Over and over again there have been lean times for humanity. The wise who store up for those times are ready, while those who simply spend all that they get - are unprepared for such times. I am not saying that we should be like the foolish farmer who stored up an abundance - and was not rich toward God. But I am saying that just like there are those examples, there are also others where God wanted His people to be wise in setting aside things for a lean time. Joseph was such an example - and his wisdom in setting aside the blessings of God - kept an entire region of the world from starvation and devastation.
A wise man knows the value of hard work - and of frugality. Both are character traits that God encourages us to embrace. Even though such things are mocked by the world around us, we should continue to speak in praise of them - and more importantly practice them to our future preparation and blessing.