A popular athletic show popularized the phrase “Just Do It!” It is a phrase that really speaks into all our lives. If you are like me, it is often easier to put something off by doing something else. We usually compromise what is more important or necessary for something that we find more enjoyable. “We often sacrifice was is important on the altar of what is good,” is too often a reality in our lives.
The “Just Do It” is not a new phrase, created in 1998. You might be surprised that we find the same admonition in God’s Word 2400 years earlier describing the instrumental Jewish leader Ezra during a time when God’s people became distracted and immersed in secular culture. The first wave of 50,000 returning Jews in 538BC finally fulfilled Biblical prophecy by completing the temple 21 years (515BC) later under God’s blessing and the Persian King Cyrus. Ezra, the Priest, was part of a second wave sent out by God under the commission by King Artaxerxes to return and instruct God’s people 80 years later (458BC). Nehemiah would be part of the third wave sent out by God under the commission of King Artaxerxes (445 BC) to rebuild the walls around the city.
It is in a passing description of Ezra that we learn, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” (Ezra 7:10) The Lord used Ezra to reach a people that had become complacent in their faith. It is almost like once the Temple building was completed, they thought they were done. The problem with failing to push forward in our spiritual lives is that we regress. It is similar to stopping when trying to go up a down escalator. The Lord would use Ezra to impact the lives of those people because he was a man “who did God’s Word!”
It is interesting to note that Jesus’ followers are quick to attempt to follow the first and third steps but often ignore the second, “and to do it.” I find it easy to fall into the trap of knowing God’s Word but not living it. It is important that we know God’s Word. This is where all spiritual growth begins. But spiritual growth never happens if we do not put God’s truth into practice in our lives. One area that I am currently working on is ““Do all things without grumbling or disputing,” (Philippians 2:14) Yet, I caught myself complaining about something that I had to do. If I had not known that truth, I might never consider doing it. But the passage happens to be one of my memory verses. Here is the point; I can impress you with my Bible knowledge but I will never impact you until I put it to work in my life.
It is then that we become qualified experientially to teach others. The church does not need any more hypocrites. What we need is redeemed individuals that are doing the hard work of living out Biblical truth each day. This is when we will be like an Ezra and impact our world for Jesus Christ.
So let me encourage you to think about the three steps that stood out from Ezra’s life. What can you start working on today. Would you join me in “Just doing God’s Word?”
-Pastor Joe Parkinson