Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday’s Ministry Musing:Empty Handed or Not?

If I accidentally leave my checkbook at home on a Sunday morning is God upset with me? 

DirtyHandsI heard it said the other day from Deuteronomy 16:16 that we are never to appear before the Lord empty-handed.  This, it was said, is why we are not to tithe once per month but we should have something to give every week.  So, if I forget my checkbook do I receive a frown from God? 

Maybe what God wants is my heart.  I forgot my checkbook but I brought my heart.  After all, I’ve heard that quite a few times before too.  I have heard from Romans 12:1-2 that what God really wants is my life and my heart.  So, what it means for the New Testament Christian is that we do not have to appear before God with a goat, or ram, or maybe not even an offering.  We appear before God with our spiritual offering—ourselves.  But, still we do not appear empty-handed.  So, if I forget my checkbook but bring my heart then God is cool with me?

But then again I’ve also heard things like this, “You can't please God if you don't come to him empty handed and longing for the Reward - and he himself is the final Reward” (Piper).  So, wait I don’t necessarily have to bring my checkbook, or my heart, just desperation, then God is cool with me? 

So, how do we apply passages like Deuteronomy 16:16?  This little exercise shows the absolute importance of having a Christ-centered hermeneutic (fancy word for Bible interpretation).  I do not think that you apply Dt. 16 by saying bring your checkbook to church every Sunday.  Nor do I think it is merely saying, bring your heart on Sunday morning.  The offerings that are given in the Old Testament are a shadow of the finished work of Jesus Christ.  The OT saint had to appear before God with offerings (a symbol of their faith/hope).  But the NT saint has to appear before God by the finished work of Jesus Christ.  So, you apply Deuteronomy 16:16 by saying, you better not appear before God empty-handed (without being covered by the blood of Jesus Christ). 

Do you come Sunday morning empty-handed?  Yes and no.  You grab hold of Christ empty-handed (this is what Piper is saying).  But as you grab hold of Christ you do not appear before God on a Sunday morning (or any other time for that matter) based on your own merits or de-merits.  You appear before God based upon the finished work of Jesus Christ, and therefore, you appear before God not with empty-hands but with hands filled with the blood of Jesus. 

I’ll let you answer the initial question on your own…

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