Study. practice. teach.

For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.

Ezra 7:10

I’m so grateful that you humor me some days. I’ve been meaning to print out that sentence about Ezra for a few days. I want to memorize it. But I keep forgetting to look it up. So I’ll put it here so it’s easy to find.

Why do I want to memorize it?

Back in January, I said “Don’t plan. Prepare.” I referred to Ezra. He was living in Babylon in the 5th century BC. He made some commitments. Not wishes, not annual resolutions, not dreams. He set his heart.

What were these commitments?

1. To study the law of the Lord. For him, the Torah, the five books of Moses. And for him, this study started with memorizing and then reflecting on and learning from other about the law.

2. To practice the law. Ezra’s study had to turn into behavior. He set his heart to actually do what he was learning.

3. To teach it. Having learned the law intellectually and experientially, Ezra was committed to explaining the laws to others.

As we read parts of Ezra’s story in Ezra and Nehemiah, we discover that he ended up in significant leadership roles. But my sense is that that he didn’t get those roles from campaigning, and he didn’t get the wisdom to hold them by wishing. The impact he had came from the changes in his life that came by studying, practicing, and teaching. He committed to not being unprepared, to not being a hypocrite, to not being silent.

That’s why I want to memorize this sentence. And take it to heart. I’m thinking it might be a worthwhile challenge. For the rest of my life.

Terry talks more about this idea of committing in How you can make a splash. 

8 thoughts on “Study. practice. teach.

  1. joseph ruiz

    Think I’ll memorize it too Jon, thought the post you linked to was very valuable, loved the insight. I once heard that we are responsible for our depth; God is responsible for our breadth. Of course God is intimately involved in both, or at least lets hope so. Great reminder and definitely words to live by. thanks Jon


  2. cjhinx

    This is a great quote to keep in mind daily. I love the word “practice” in “Practice the Law”. For me there is a lot of practicing in trying to get it right.


    1. Jon Swanson

      what if we changed the wording in your last sentence from “trying to get it right ” to “learning to get it right.” trying is about measuring up. Learning is about acquiring practical understanding, which assumes mistakes in the process of learning.


  3. Steve Blundell

    This is brilliant! Love the idea of your blog as well. 300 words a day following Jesus – great idea, love the concept. I came across your blog via googling discipleship blog as I’m starting to write one as well.

    I have often returned to this verse in Ezra and I love you comment about learning to get it right. It is os important to remember or successes and failures, they both build character. Thanks again for your blog – I will keep posted.

    Be blessed,



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