897. Is it wrong if people do good in the hope that they will be rewarded in the next life, and that their situation will be better there for having done it? Will such an act have unfavorable consequences on their advancement?
“You should do good for the sake of charity, meaning disinterestedly.”
a) It is completely natural to want to advance to be free from this painful life. The spirits tell us to do good to reach this end. Is it wrong to hope that, through doing good, we may be better off than we are on Earth?
“Of course not. But those who do good impulsively, simply for the sake of pleasing God and providing relief to their suffering neighbors, have already reached a higher degree of advancement and are closer to reaching ultimate happiness than their brothers and sisters who, being more selfish, do good in hopes of receiving a reward, instead of being compelled by the goodness of their own hearts.” (See no. 894)
b) Should a distinction be made between the good we do for our neighbors and the effort we put forward to correct our own faults? We understand that there is little merit in doing good with the idea that we will be rewarded in the next life. Is it also a sign of inferiority to fix ourselves, conquer our passions, correct whatever flaws we may have, in the hope of bringing ourselves closer to good spirits and elevating ourselves?
“No, by doing good we merely mean being charitable. Those who count, in every charitable deed they do, how much they will be rewarded, in this life or the next, act selfishly. However, there is no selfishness in improving one’s self in the hope of getting closer to God, which should be everyone’s goal.”