"For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel" (Ezra 7:10).
Parenting has taught me a lot about life! Many of the lessons I have learned have been through at least as many mistakes as success, if not more! I remember one day in particular when I had an overwhelming encounter of conviction with the Holy Spirit. One of the areas we have always battled as parents in insuring that our kids have kept their rooms clean. “Is your room clean?” would always be the question when they wanted to run off and do something of their own choosing. “Yes, Daddy!” would come a pretty rapid reply. “Is it “Daddy clean?” was my response to insure that a rush job wasn’t being used to achieve the “technical” requirement of my question. “Daddy clean.” Hmmm. Well, that got me one day. By “Daddy clean,” they understood that to mean ‘thorough, complete, and almost perfect.’ The Holy Spirit spoke to me during one of those “clean your room’ exchanges. “Is YOUR room ‘Daddy clean?’” I was stunned and stopped in my own tracks. I had been expecting something I was not emulating. What credibility do I have as a dad to parent what I’m not producing? Needless to say, that day began a renewed discipline in my own life. No matter how busy I am or think I am, picking up after myself, and contributing to my own room being ‘Daddy clean’ became a priority as I modeled to my children the importance of BEING before DOING.
Ezra was a priest and a scribe, a man God had used to live and to tell the story of redemption and restoration. The temple was to be rebuilt in a city that had been destroyed because its inhabitants had been more focused on DOING the people of God rather than BEING the people of God. They had DONE the actions without having BECOME intimately connected with the God in whom they actions had been dedicated. Their actions were a result of OBLIGATION, not TRANSFORMATION. Ezra refused to allow history to repeat itself through his life. He “devoted himself” to the BEING of the work of God more than the DOING of the work of God. His desire was for everything he would DO to be an overflow out of all that he would BE.
“…to the study…” Ezra wanted to know God. He didn’t want to rely on what he had heard, but he wanted to hear it for himself. He wanted to hear the same voice of the same God who had tried to speak to so many with deaf ears. He wanted to learn from the mistakes of his relatives before him. He wanted to know the God that others had chosen not to know. You will never BE who you were intended to be if you do not KNOW the God who always was, is and will be. He created you. He formed you and crafted an original purpose for your life. Study. Get to know Him for who He is. Go to church and be a part of community, but never rely on a once or twice encounter with a preacher or a teacher to be the extent to which you are exposed to the reality of God. Let God be the start and the greatest part of your everyday life. Who you are will become much more clear to you when you discover more and more who He has always been.
“…and observance of the Law of the LORD…” Knowing would never be enough for Ezra. He knew the great failures of the past had to do with knowing what to do and what was right, but neglecting the application. Without application, information will never lead to transformation. Ezra didn’t just study it, he practiced it. He allowed what he studied to transform who he was. He meditated on it. He let it have more than just headspace, but heart space. God desires to move and work in your life well beyond the shout of an ‘amen.’ Do it. Allow Him to transform the being so that you live that transformation through the doing. Do what you say you believe. If DOING it doesn’t follow the SAYING it, it will be unbelievable that you are BEING it. Let the credibility of your integrity be evident in how you apply what you say you know.
“…and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” What Ezra studied and practiced, he also taught. What he required had been exemplified and modeled in his own life. His greatest and most believable lessons were taught out of the pages of his own examples. He taught what he lived, because he lived what he believed. Anyone might have argued Ezra’s theology, but they could never effectively argue his “life-ology.” He learned it. He lived it. He let it be known through his own life. When you have been changed by the power of God and who He is, you want others to know the same. If you aren’t passionate about seeing others changed by the power of God, the question becomes “have you really been changed?” Has YOUR being been changed?
The most effecting DOING will always be a result of a transformation in the BEING. Start there. Ask God to change you from the inside-out. When God grabs hold of a surrendered being, what He does is more than unbelievable. It is undeniable.