Question 42: How is the Word of God to be read and heard?
Answer: With diligence, preparation, and prayer; so that we may accept it with faith, store it in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.
Ezra 7:10 pictures for us what a godly life looks like: "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." Godliness begins with receiving the Word of God into our hearts. For Ezra, that meant studying the Law of the Lord. For us, it means hearing, reading, and studying the whole counsel of God in Scripture, which points us to Jesus Christ.
But merely studying the Word of God is not enough. If we fail to put into practice what we have studied, we only further harden ourselves against God. So let us aspire not only to study Scripture, but to apply it. Ezra gives us an example of a man who allowed the Word of God to be a lamp for his feet and a light for his path (Psalm 119:105).
Finally, Ezra not only studied the law and practiced it, but he also taught the Lord's statutes to Israel. Of course, not all of us are called to be teachers of the Word in some kind of public setting. In fact, James explicitly says not many of us should be teachers in this sense (James 3:1). And yet Christians do teach and admonish one another in a less formal way (Col. 3:16), and those who have spiritual gifts that pertain to speaking must speak as those speaking the very oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:10-11). Furthermore, we should always be ready to bear witness to the gospel whenever the opportunity arises (1 Pet. 3:15).
Study the Word. Practice the Word. Teach the Word to others through evangelism and discipleship. Follow Ezra's wonderful example.
Suggested passage for personal or family reading: Ezra 7:10. What three things did Ezra do that are a model for us? How will you practice these three things in your own life?