Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
God gives gifts and abilities, and all power ultimately comes from Him, but human will is certainly involved as well. Jesus’ famous parable of the talents makes that very clear. (Matthew 25:14-30) Ezra had obviously been given a good mind, but it was his choice to devote it to the study, practice, and dissemination of the Law of the Lord. That’s why God’s gracious hand was on him, as it says in verse 9. It gets complicated sometimes, trying to think it all out. Everything we have is by the grace of God, most expressly including salvation itself, (Ephesians 2:8-9) but we are still rewarded for what we do with what we are given, or punished for what we fail to do with it, as Jesus expressed in His parable. We cannot earn salvation, but when we respond rightly to the salvation God has provided, the rewards just don’t stop coming. It is no accident that immediately after giving the most famous and unequivocal statement of salvation by grace through faith, Paul then goes on to say, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) Ezra did not claim the position of Bible Teacher on his own, he chose to dedicate the abilities God had given him to serve God in the way He indicated. As Paul said, “To each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” (Ephesians 4:7) The question is not whether we have been gifted, but rather what we will do with what has been given us.
This has always been an issue with me, because the Lord has given me a wide variety of abilities, and every one is to be used as He directs. Yesterday I functioned as a preacher and as an audio technician, and today I will be functioning as a carpenter/cabinetmaker. I have been asked, in all seriousness, “Just what is your occupation?” The answer is ultimately, “Whatever the Lord directs at the moment.” I delight to serve as a musician, as a photographer, as a teacher, and as a carpenter and electrician. Any of those could be a full time occupation, but that’s not how I have been led. My focus is to be on hearing my Lord and doing whatever He says, as a good steward of the abilities with which He has blessed me. My stewardship has certainly not been consistent. My clarinets are gathering dust, and that is sad to me. Each day has only 24 hours, and there are so many distractions! I still have plenty of room for growth in listening to what the Lord wants me doing now, instead of just frittering away my time. At the same time, I’m not to be uptight about it all, because He Himself has told me to rest, relax, and rejoice in Him. That’s a pretty good assignment!
Father, thank You for the tasks You have for me today. I pray that I would do a good job at each, not only so that the results will be attractive, but especially so that the other people involved may be pointed to You. May I be an open channel of Your grace and power, for the blessing of those around me and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!