Following Ezra

“For Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” Ezra 7:10

If I would be like Ezra the scribe, bringing things new and old out of a full treasury, and guiding the feet of the perplexed into the ways of peace–I must look in four directions:

1. First, I shall turn my gaze inwards upon my HEART. “Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord.” Ezra had prepared his heart, and so must I. I must understand that vital religion is deeper . . .
than external observance of religious rituals,
than a valiant confession of the lips,
than an ordered theological belief system.
It is the soul convinced of sin, confiding the Savior, filled from above with penitence and faith and peacefulness and power.

He alone can plead with others and can prevail–who has undergone this most radical change, and whose heart is prepared for his work by its simple trust in the redeeming and quickening mercy of his Good Physician.

2. Then I shall give attention to my MIND. For “Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord.” He was a pupil in the school of the heavenly oracles. He hungered and thirsted for clearer and profounder and more adequate conceptions of that wisdom which is eternal and divine.

To the last of my life, I must be a disciple and student of God’s Word. He has more light and truth to break forth from His holy Word; but He reveals them to those alone who search and dig for them as for hidden treasure. How can I feed my fellows with the bread of the soul, unless I am busy appropriating and enjoying it myself?

3. And I shall be watchful over my LIFE. “Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord.” Ezra was careful not merely to study the Word, but to DO it. He was saint as well as scholar! Day after day, the purifying Word kept him from staining his garments, and made his character gracious and godly. The sermon I preach by what I AM–is more eloquent than the sermon I preach by what I SAY!

4. And, finally, I shall guard and train and hallow my LIPS. It was Ezra’s ambition to teach God’s decrees and laws in Israel–to speak . . .
when the fitting opportunity presents itself;
with no affectation, but naturally and sincerely;
as a dying man to dying men;
the unyielding truth in love and pity and tears;
to the glory of God.

May I tread in the wake of Ezra the scribe!

(Alexander Smellie, “The Secret Place” 1907)

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