Gradually Becoming Obedient?

A church that we are familiar with had this in their bulletin in a discussion about tithing:

Some people who are not tithing wonder if they can “work their way up to a tithe” by increasing their giving some each year until they reach 10%. This question is not addressed in the Bible because tithing is an act of obedience, and you cannot be partially obedient or work your way into obedience. There is no other issue of obedience in which we would suggest that we would gradually become obedient.

What is your reaction to a statement like that?

Think about this in relation to things other than tithes.

Is this an accurate statement?

What does the Bible say about obedience?


9 thoughts on “Gradually Becoming Obedient?

  1. Hello,

    I don’t see in the New Testament where we are instructed as to how much to give. I don’t see “tithing” in there. I’m not saying that one shouldn’t give that much and more. I’m only saying I don’t see a specific amount to give or to “work up to”.

    Just my thoughts.

    God Bless

  2. Wow-thanks for asking this question! I think that once you know the will of God in any matter, you need to obey first, and then trust God to provide understanding, resources, whatever.
    But I think it’s so tricky with tithes/giving. My husband and I were delivered out of a Prosperity Gospel church, so I am particularly sensitive to giving issues. Upon coming out of that teaching, I was so SICK of money being the focus of every single sermon that I think I would have stormed out of that church if I had seen something like the above comment in the church bulletin. I thank God that when we were led to our current church, we didn’t encounter any pressure to give at all. We started off giving a lot less than we do now, only because we were so confused, and we were not fully persuaded in our hearts as to how we should give. We would not have been giving “with a cheerful heart” if we had been pressured to do so. And I only mention all of this because the prosperity gospel is EVERYWHERE, and it really confuses people about giving to/receiving from God.
    For what it’s worth, I have come to agree with hmkjr regarding the tithe being absent in the New Testament. I think that like, divorce, the tithe was perhaps delineated because of the hardness of their hearts. But we as Christians are asked to surrender everything to Christ. It all belongs to God. Short of living in a commune like we see in the book of Acts, perhaps the best thing to do is to be flexible and give as much as you are led to give by God. And I have found that type of giving tends to be very generous. At times, uncomfortably so!
    But for me as a woman, this issue is a little easier because I defer to my husband on stuff like this. If I make suggestions regarding giving beyond what we normally give, I make the suggestion and leave it alone. I let him decide. And I thank God that whenever one of us feels led to give more or to somebody/something new, the other has usually been mulling it in their heart already. And so we tend to agree readily with each other when that happens.

    Thanks for hearing me out, and I hope you can follow my post–it seems to suffer from ADD!

    God bless you,

    P.S. Just have to add that my husband was as stingy as they come before he came to know Christ! Praise God for transformation and renewal!

  3. In that case, I’ll share some more 🙂 For the 15 years or so that I’ve been saved, I have been taught to give 10% (of gross income) no matter what and I did that and God has blessed it. About a year ago, my wife and I began to experience the results of some bad financial desicions I had made. I was either going to have to get a second job or something else drastic – however second job wasn’t practical since I already had little time with my family due to the job I already had at the time. But I recognized my mistakes, repented of them and told the Lord I would do whatever He saw fit to rectify the issue. Keeping in mind, all the while we were “tithing” 10% of our gross income. Well, God gave me a job that not only provided an almost 30% pay increase, but also gave me an incredible more amount of time with my family. God never ceases to amaze me! Well, at my new job, I met a Christian fellow whom I would come to have many conversations with, one of which was about debt, tithing, etc. To make a long story short, he suggested that I suspend “tithing” to pay off my debt since God does not like debt and He says to “get your house in order”. I told him NO WAY and that I only had what I had because of the 10% I had given all those years. He said that was being “legalistic” and challenged me to show him where in the bible that we are commanded to give 10%. Guess what…I couldn’t find it. I tried to use the “tithe” from Malachi, but after some research, I saw that doesn’t actually apply. I have come to respect John MacArthur over the years and decided to see what he teaches on the issue. Well, I downloaded and listened to about 7 or 8 hours worth of study on the issue and have a completely new and I beleive correct understanding of biblical giving. Now, here’s the part that alot of Christians would cringe at – my wife and I had over $9,000 in credit card debt at that time. I prayed and prayed and repented of the credit card usage and told God that I was not going to incur anymore consumer debt, including car loans. Then, I felt led to put some of our “tithing” money toward paying down our debt and that if that was not in His will, to please make it clear. My wife was in no way on board with this idea at first, but in less than a year, Lord willing, we will have paid off over $9,000 in debt and we have still been able to give a considerable amount when we have been presented with needs, just not 10% all the time. Having said all that, giving 10% all those years even in the lean times certainly gave God a chance to prove Himself over and over and taught me a great deal about trusting in Him, but so far me AND my wife are still at peace with the decision we made. The freedom from the bondage of debt is awesome!

    The John MacArthur series are titled “The Biblical View of Money” and the “The Biblical Model for Giving” – it goes against the grain of popular teaching, but I believe it is biblical.

    God Bless

  4. hmkjr,

    That is very interesting. I would say most typical churches would say continue to tithe that 10% no matter what. There are many families I’m sure that have found themselves in similar situations.

    You added more food for thought. I am working on another post about this but now I am going to ponder your comment also.


    Berean Wife

  5. It goes without saying that I don’t believe in gradual obedience.

    That said, there are habits in my life that have been easier to overcome than others. Things I was delivered from immediately and things I struggled with for longer periods of time. Even when I knew the will of God was for me to stop:

    Wearing tank tops but I didn’t have money for new clothes.

    Submit to my husband in all things.

    Tithe even when it meant a bill would go unpaid.

    Forgive thosse who had deeply wounded me in ways I won’t describe here.

    Stop being lazy.

    I guess my point is that each and every one of us can think of some area where our obedience has been slow.

    That doesn’t make it right, and we thank God for His grace.

    And I think this church did well to admonish their members that gradual obedience is not acceptable to God. Just because we human beings have a hard time doing some things is no reason for chueches to accomodate our disobedience by encouraging people to stay where they are.

    We are supposed to be growing into better and more obedient children of God day by day. Too many churches subsidize sloppy, undisciplined living to keep the people happy. There’s enough of that in the church as it is.

    So bravo to this church’s leadership.

  6. People seemed to have focused on the tithing question, rather than the obedience question.

    Concerning obedience, we are familiar with the scripture in 1 Samuel 15v22, “…to obey is better than sacrifice…”

    This we know. In the end, it was Samuel who had to hack King Agag to pieces, and Saul was rejected as king.

    We should be obedient in our giving and set the tithe as the standard for our giving.

    No where in the book of Acts is communal living spoken of.
    In Acts 4, they sold and laid the money at the apostle feet. It doesn’t say they lived together.

    Hebrews 7 mentions about tithes, and that’s in the New Testament. But please yourself what you do with the money God gives you.

    He gives, and He can easily take away. Easily.

    More people will probably go to hell through the love of money rather than through anything else.

    Let’s hope not.

  7. Dora,

    Just Sunday we heard the Hebrews 7 passage discussed in relation to tithing.

    As Celeste said, everything belongs to the Lord anyway. He will do what is best for us and it may include a time of financial hardship in order to teach us.

    Berean Wife

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