Stewardship, more than mere giving, is about asking the question, “How is my life to be lived if I am to live my life in God’s service?”

There are two ways to ask that question: the minimizing way and the maximizing way. The minimizing way asks, “How much must I do?” The maximizing way asks, “How much may I do?”

“How much must I do” has a legalistic expectation, a compulsion about it. That sense of “being forced to do” destroys joy, excitement, and sense of adventure and accomplishment that the exercise of generosity could and should provide to one’s soul.

This minimizing understanding is not from God. God does not force us into generous living. Instead, God celebrates our desire to walk with God, rejoices in our triumphs of faith, and loves when we do things out of a sense of joy, gratitude, expectation, and excitement.

The maximizing way of thinking (“How much may I do”) causes us to realize that God has given us so much that it’s impossible even to quantify (or even recall) how much we’ve been blessed. TThen we can go about the good work of evaluating how much we may do for God and God’s Kingdom.

Fortunately, true Christian stewardship does not steer us toward “How much must I do?” As Christians, we neither profess, nor are we bound, by such a minimizing view of either our life or God’s creation. Instead, our faith pulls us away from such a view and draws us onward and upward to a higher, more thrilling, and more satisfying experience with God. Our faith draws us toward the unlimited potential of life in Christ.

The asking of the maximizing question will absolutely induce a sense of freedom. “How much may I do?” has a challenging and exhilarating quality to it that lifts my sights, fills me with excitement, and recognizes that my generosity pleases God, who sees my giving and rejoices in my joy of giving to God.

Because of this, I commend this understanding of stewardship to you. It has done wonders for my own sense of being Christian. And I wish for you the excitement and freedom that this faithful stewardship has brought me. I feel certain it will bring you the same.

Written by Currie Carter

Originally published in the 2017 Summer Quarterly Explorer