Lizzie Griffiths is 25, a teacher, and lives in England. She has a pet—it’s a bearded lizard. Not long after she got “George,” he developed a bump on his face. She took him to the vet and had it removed. It returned and she repeated the process. It came back a third time and she learned it was cancer and that George was going to have to be put down. Lizzie wouldn’t hear of it. Instead, she took the money that was supposed to go to her wedding and used it to pay for radiation treatments for George. The lizard is in remission now and everyone is happy. Lizzie said there was no question about putting George’s health ahead of her marriage to her boyfriend, Chris. For Chris’ part, he says, “They definitely have a special bond. I understand he is her number one.”
Then there’s Robert Russell. At one time, he was the proud owner of a 1967 Austin-Healey sports car. One morning he woke up and it was gone, someone had stolen it. That was in 1970. Robert never gave up looking for that car. The advent of the internet greatly increased his search abilities and he finally tracked the car down on E-Bay. He notified authorities and after 42 years, the car is back in his possession.
You could make an argument that everyone is devoted to something. In cases where there isn’t something as concrete as a lizard or a car, devotion can exist in regard to an idea, a principle, or a cause. Even people who appear not to be devoted to anything may just be dedicated to a non-committal lifestyle.
Ezra 7:10 tells us that “Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” Note the particulars that are mentioned. Ezra was devoted to the study of God’s word. Study of the Scripture involves learning what the text says, but there’s more to it than that. After all, most everyone knows something about what the book of Revelation says—how it speaks of Armageddon, a dragon, a beast from the sea, a beast from the earth, 666, etc. But what do these things mean? Bible study is about learning what the text means.
But it didn’t stop there for Ezra. He was devoted to the observance of God’s word. Learning what the text means is a beginning, not an end. Jesus told His apostles to make disciples by baptizing them and teaching to “obey everything I have commanded you,” (Matthew 28:19). The real blessing is not in knowing, but in doing (John 13:17).
Ezra was also devoted to teaching God’s word. While not everyone can be a teacher in the sense that Ezra was (see James 3:1ff), everyone can and should share with others the things they know (Hebrews 5:12ff).
We might be tempted to think of Ezra as being devoted to God’s word, but I think that would be a little misleading. The more accurate truth would be to recognize that he was devoted to God and his keen interest in the Scripture was a healthy outworking of his passion for his Father.
That’s a devotion worth imitating.