In that wonderful hymn, Rock of Ages, we joyfully sing:
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling.
When it comes to salvation, ‘tis true, we bring nothing to the table of redemption, and yes, salvation is wholly of the Lord, an act of undeserved mercy and grace towards sinners. Our hands are empty.
Regretfully, there are many who continue to think they must remain empty-handed in worship, whether it be private prayer at home or corporate worship on the Sabbath.
In Exodus 34:20, there appears the statement from the Lord: None shall appear before Me empty-handed. We find the same statement in Deuteronomy 16:16, which reads:
Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.
To understand what this phrase means, we must look at the next verse, v. 17:
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.
Clearly, no man was to appear before the Lord ‘empty handed’ but was instructed to appear before Him with something for the Lord; that is, each man was to be ready, prepared and eager to give and to do for the Lord according to howsoever the Lord had blessed him.
Immediately what comes to mind is the poor widow whom, you might say had been blessed with poverty (Mark 12:41-44), yet, because her heart was right before God, she worshipped in her giving according to her blessing – two copper coins, which make a penny! She came to worship not empty-handed, but gave all she had to the One who was the giver of all things.
In 2 Corinthians 8:12, God teaches us through the Apostle Paul:
For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.
Is it not true that we have too often been guilty of neglecting this clear precept of Scripture found in both the Old and New Testaments? How often in our lives do we appear before the Lord with the premeditated purpose of asking, pleading to receive some blessing for ourselves or a loved one; a physical healing, financial stability, assistance in a time of difficulty in present circumstances. Certainly, the Lord is our Friend and we are free and privileged to go to Him at anytime we are troubled and in need of help. Yet, throughout Scripture, I find that the Spirit has recorded for our good the truth that we, as His children, are to be eager first, to seek and to ask, “What can I do for my Lord today? How may I serve Him? How might I bring glory to God for all the great things he has done for me?”
Is this not true brethren? Should this not be our eagerness and priority before our own needs? Does it not call for our own heart examination regarding our desires being inline with what God would have us be and become?
In the giving of our monies for the Gospel cause; our giving and sacrificing our time for the same, be it in prayer, service to the church or neighbors, our readiness and eager attitude to do so for the Lord is what He desires, and for His glory alone, for our gracious Lord will have none come before Him empty-handed!