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Why one good deed done secretly is better than a thousand that are recognized

photo-denver | Shutterstock

What matters most is our intention, not the number of our good deeds.

It is tempting to think that as long as we do something good for another person, then God will look favorably upon us. However, that is not always the case.

Being charitable to another person is certainly a good thing, but when that charity is done for public recognition, its value before God is greatly diminished.

Here is how St. John of the Cross puts it in his Sayings of Light and Love.

God is more pleased by one work, however small, done secretly, without desire that it be known, than a thousand done with the desire that people know of them. Those who work for God with purest love not only care nothing about whether others see their works, but do not even seek that God himself know of them. Such persons would not cease to render God the same services, with the same joy and purity of love, even if God were never to know of these.

What is important is the intention that lies behind our good deeds. Are we kind to a co-worker so that they will recognize us? Do we give money to an organization in hopes that our name will go on the wall?

Jesus reiterated this lesson when teaching his disciples about almsgiving.

[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (Matthew 6:1-4)

Above all things, let us not seek the acclaim of others, but only the favor of God, who sees our deeds even when no one else knows about them.

Read more: If you want to do a good deed, remember this essential principle

Read more: Are you struggling to be a good person? Ask God to set you free

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