And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. Exodus 23:15b (NASB)
It was shocking to me the first time I walked into the grocery store and saw so many of the shelves empty. I had heard about certain items, like toilet paper, being sold out, but canned peaches? Treet meat? Why? To look at it humorously, I guess we can tell what most of our neighbors are eating by seeing what is sold out in the stores.
One morning when I got up, for whatever reason, the image of those bare shelves was on my mind. Then I began thinking about the bare shelves in my heart. If I were to do an inventory of my life, which areas of my life would be fully stocked with the attributes a believer in Christ should possess, and which would be empty? Wow! That thought made me stop and think.
This one familiar verse informs us of the virtues with which Christians should be filled:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)
I have puzzled over that last phrase, “against such things there is no law.” In the Old Testament, when God instituted all of the sacrifices and offerings that the people had to make, God said the people were not to come empty handed.
Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed. Deuteronomy 16:16 (NIV)
And the New Testament also refers to a point in which we will be judged:
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. Matthew 12:36 (NIV)
So how do we avoid coming before God empty handed? How do we avoid receiving judgment against empty words? By recognizing that without Christ, we are empty. It is only through Christ and what He did for us that we can be filled.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:18-21 (NIV)
The Fruits of the Spirit, which we are to daily exhibit, have no laws against them or for them. So, what does that mean? It means if we are filled with the Spirit of God, which we should be if we proclaim we are Christians, then those virtues should automatically be exhibited by us. We don’t have to be told not to come before our Lord empty handed, because we will be filled. It means we won’t be speaking empty words to be judged against, because our speech will be controlled by the Spirit. Whatever we are filled with, that is what will come out of our mouths, our actions and our hearts. And if we are filled with those virtues, no law can be held against us, and everything that we do will be glorifying to God and not unlawful in any way.
So, check out the shelves of your heart. Are they full or do you need some restocking?
Heavenly Father, thank You for allowing Your Son to come into this world so we can be saved. Help us to be aware of the areas in our lives that need to look more like Christ. May we allow You to have full control through the filling of the Spirit. May the shelves of our heart be fully stocked with Your attributes so that others can easily see You in all we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.