Once, when I was a boy, I complained to my Grandma that after I had done something nice for a friend he responded with suspicion, and suggested that I was really after something for myself, and that it was probably something that he owned that I wanted.I didn’t have the word altruism in my vocabulary at the time, and so I struggled to explain to Grandma how angry I was that I had tried to do a good deed for him, and that it seemingly had gone wrong.
Grandma was sympathetic but suggested that my anger was misplaced in that a good Christian never looked for thanks from someone for whom they had done a good deed. It was enough, she said, that the good deed was done and that was its own reward.
Many years later, I found the following words attributed to Mother Teresa, and finally, I began to understand what Grandma had tried to tell me.
“If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies; succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway…
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.”