“Ask a Priest: What If I Don’t See Any Rewards for My Good Deeds?”

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Q: I keep thinking I am doing good. I keep trying to be positive, do the right thing, work hard. All of this is in an effort to think that I will somehow reap the benefits. No matter how much I do for others or think I am helping, I still feel like I am merely treading water and not getting anywhere. I don’t feel like any favors are returned. Even watering a bamboo plant made it die. Please help me in my faith. – K.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Ideally we should do the right thing, the charitable thing, for love of Jesus and for no other reason.

This might be a moment when Our Lord is trying to purify your motives. Perhaps you aren’t feeling any feedback precisely because you are doing the “right thing” in order to get rewarded. Self-seeking can rob us of the graces we would otherwise merit from doing acts of charity.

This might be the moment to consciously commit to doing the right thing in reparation for your sins, for the salvation of other souls, and for the glory of God.

If you can do that, without expecting recompense in this world, you can be on your way to real growth in holiness.

This approach might sound a bit simplistic, but it’s powerful. It can allow you to abandon yourself into God’s hands, leaving the matter of rewards in his hands.

So, try to see those instances of an apparent lack of rewards as an opportunity, not as an annoyance. You will understand much better what Our Lord went through in his passion, when he gave everything but didn’t see many signs of gratitude from the crowds in Jerusalem.

Doing it purely for love of his Father and for the salvation of souls was enough to keep Jesus going. There is a profound lesson there for all of us.

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