Learned For The Lord 2 – Devoted To Study, Observe & Teach
Updated: Mar 13, 2020
Chan Gin Kai
Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king. He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had devotedhimself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. (Ezra 7:8-10)
Ezra’s attitude to God’s Law is so well described in this passage. I appreciate the use of the word “devoted” here. He was devoted to studying the law, observing it, and teaching it too. Do we have the same attitude to the Bible?
Let’s first discuss “devoted”. It signifies desire and commitment. It would mean many hours spent doing those things.
What occupies our mind most during our waking hours? What do we set as our priority in our allocation of time? What excites us? These define what we’re devoted to.
Devoted To Studying
Ezra was devoted to studying the Law and that was why he was regarded as “a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses” (Ezra 7:6b). Because of this, King Artaxerxes entrusted him to appoint and train “magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates” (Ezra 7:25). That’s to the whole region of Trans-Euphrates, not just Israel... So the Mosaic Law was taught and used to administer justice to even the Gentiles, because of Ezra.
The Bible contains wisdom and understanding that has changed and impacted our lives. God’s principles are not only useful to us Christians, but to non-Christians as well. If we are well versed in the Bible, we will naturally show wisdom in our speech and behaviour. Non-Christians will notice and respect our wisdom, even though they may not even know we got it from the Bible. Do we have non-Christians approaching us to seek our advice? Are we impacting them with God’s words?
Let’s be devoted to studying the Bible. Seek deeper understanding by reading commentaries, and of course Jesus365 too (pardon my “shameless plug”). And let’s share what we’ve learnt with each other.
The Bible is God’s love story to us. It will impact our lives and people around us too. We need to be devoted to studying God’s words.
Devoted To Observing
What is the use of knowledge if we don’t apply it? Knowledge without applying it in love leads to intellectual pride – “But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1b)
Being devoted to studying the Bible is useless if we are not devoted to observing it as well. Jesus’ biggest opposers were the Pharisees, and they were well versed in the Law. But Jesus challenged their hypocritical observance of it. They followed only whatever benefited them, and twisted the scriptures to fit their behaviour.
Not only were the Pharisees ruining their own salvation by not properly applying what they learnt, they harmed others too. Paul advised Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16)
It is indeed hard to observe some of the teachings in the Bible. It is tempting to pick and choose what we want to follow, and provide excuses for what we don’t want to. We will inevitably influence our family, colleagues, friends and brothers and sisters in church too. This is not only detrimental to our own lives and salvation, but to others around us as well.
Devoted To Teaching
Let’s face the elephant in the room, are we ALL teaching God’s Word to others?
We give too many excuses for not doing it. And as leaders, we often give excuses for people who don’t do it too. It is true we don’t want the blind to lead the blind; and we don’t want to stumble others with wrong doctrines. But really, how much does a person need to know before he or she can teach others?
How much of the scriptures did the guy who was formerly possessed by a legion of demons really know? Yet Jesus told him to go tell people what happened to him, and he went to preach to the Decapolis – that's 10 cities! (Mark 5)
And did the Samaritan woman really know a lot, after just that conversation at the well with Jesus? Yet she went to tell the whole town about Jesus, and “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’” (John 4:39) The people went to see Jesus after that, and were impacted by him.
Jesus actually sent them out, with the little knowledge they had, to tell others about him. Was Jesus being careless? Did he not care that they may teach the wrong things? And do we claim to be more careful than Jesus about teaching the right doctrines?
We many not know a lot, but we only need to share and teach what we know. Not all of us may be able to debate doctrines, argue apologetics, or harmonise hermeneutics. But we are all able to share about how Jesus has impacted us. We can all share a few scriptures we have learnt from our quiet times too.
The real question is, are we devoted to studying, observing and teaching the Bible?
Read more about ‘Learned For The Lord’:
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry of the Central Christian Church. He describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.