Here is a true statement about giving that seems obvious and self-explanatory when you first see it, but not so easy to live. Giving requires a certain absence of selfishness.
A selfish person — one absorbed in their own issues and always thinking about themselves — is not going to be sensitive enough to someone else to know what that person needs or even care about it. And how can I give to someone I don’t know anything about? When there is no connection, there is no compassion, and there is no giving.
When I pass a single mom outside Starbucks holding a sign about two kids and no job, and I am too absorbed in my own needs to notice her or care, how will I be possibly drawn to give? A giving person is one focused outwardly; he/she is aware of others and concerned about their condition. That connection is a prerequisite to giving. A miser, on the other hand, is inwardly focused and unaware of those around him/her, much less in any place to care or to give.
Jesus is our best example of this, for when He saw the multitudes of people coming to Him with all their problems and diseases, He was moved with compassion. He was moved to do something. First He empathized with them. (He saw them as sheep without a shepherd.) Then He gave freely to them in the form of healing. (If you had the ability to make everyone around you well, no matter how bad their condition, wouldn’t you use it?) What a gift! Jesus gave because He was outwardly focused. He saw, He felt, and He gave.
The extent to which my day is taken up with me is the extent to which I will not be able to give to those around me. When I am all-consumed with what I am getting or not getting, feeling or not feeling, there is no room left to even know about anyone else, much less care about them.
Ask God today to turn you out. Ask Him to give you a heart of compassion — to see people as He sees them. Lord, get my focus off of me and onto those around me. That would not only be grace; that would be grace turned outward!