Three Practices That Will Transform Your Spiritual Walk

Have you stopped growing as a Christian? If so, how do you get back on track? Here are three suggestions.

Three Practices That Will Transform Your Spiritual Walk
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 / Unsplash

Why do Christians stop growing?

There are three common reasons. Either they stop studying God’s Word, stop obeying what they know is right, or stop sharing what they’ve learned with others. These were three realities the Old Testament scribe Ezra guarded against. The name Ezra means helper and “is probably an abbreviated form of Azariah, meaning ‘Yahweh helps.’”[1] As James Hamilton notes,

Ezra falls nicely into two parts. The first part, chapters 1–6, covers 80 years and concludes with the rebuilding of the temple. The second part takes place in just one year and concludes with the people sending away foreign wives. Both parts begin with a Persian decree, contain a list of returnees, and continue with an account of opposition overcome. In the first part the opposition is from the outside, and in the second it is from the inside.[2]

“The last four chapters of Ezra are often known as the Ezra Memoir. Some of the material represents a memoir style (Ezra 7:27–9:15) while the rest is written in third person (Ezra 7:1–26; 10).”[3] Perhaps the key verse in this book is Ezra 7:10, which says, “Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Hannah Harrington writes, “Ezra is the only person in the Hebrew Bible who is said to have ‘sought’ Yahweh through study of his Word.”[4] As a scribe, Ezra was a student and a practitioner. John Goldingay says,

One of the neatest compliments that could be paid him is that he had given himself to studying, observing, and teaching the Torah. He wasn’t just a person who studied because he liked studying; his studying motivated him to teach. But neither was he someone who simply studied and taught but who could roll up his scroll at the end of the working day and forget about its teaching. He was a person who lived by what he read and taught. He observed the Torah.[5]

He studied, he obeyed, and he taught. As Derek Kidner writes, “He is a model reformer in that what he taught he had first lived, and what he lived he had first made sure of in the Scriptures. With study, conduct and teaching put deliberately in this right order, each of these was able to function properly at its best: study was saved from unreality, conduct from uncertainty, and teaching from insincerity and shallowness.”[6] As a result, Ezra’s life serves as a model for Christians of any generation to follow.

As Christians, like Ezra, we are called to be priests. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Just as Ezra was dedicated to studying, teaching, and living out God’s Word, we are called to immerse ourselves in Scripture, embody its teachings, and share it with others.

The problem is many Christians often miss one of these three pillars. They are great at studying but terrible at applying. They are passionate about sharing their faith but live in habitual disobedience to God. Or, they are obedient and sensitive to God’s voice but don’t challenge their minds by studying God’s Word deeply. As a result, they tend to either remain shallow in their faith, hypocritical in their actions or consumeristic in their thinking.

If you want to be a mature Christian, focus on following Ezra’s pattern. Use the many resources available to study God’s Word deeply, obey God instantly before you reap the fruits of your sinful actions, and share your faith with others.

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[1]Hannah K. Harrington, The Books of Ezra and NehemiahNew International Commentary on the Old Testament. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2022), 197.

[2]James M. Hamilton, Exalting Jesus in Ezra and NehemiahChrist-Centered Exposition Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2014), 5.

[3]Hannah K. Harrington, The Books of Ezra and NehemiahNew International Commentary on the Old Testament. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2022), 4.

[4]Hannah K. Harrington, The Books of Ezra and NehemiahNew International Commentary on the Old Testament. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2022), 203.

[5]John Goldingay, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther for Everyone, vol. 9 of Old Testament for Everyone. Accordance electronic ed. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), 52.

[6]Derek Kidner, Ezra and Nehemiah: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 12 of Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. IVP/Accordance electronic ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1979), 71.