We’ve all heard the statement that “no good deed goes unpunished.” In fact, we’ve all probably thought that as we’ve tried to help people in difficult circumstances only to have something happen that makes us regret helping them. I believe that it is human nature to want to help others; at the same time, it is human nature to take advantage of those who are helping. And so, even though we have negative consequences for helping, when someone else needs help, we respond. Often we suffer the consequences of our helping attitude but we don’t give up. Why do we do it?
There is a lot of talk about helping others throughout the Bible. In all the times that God speaks about helping others, He never calls on us to expect our good deeds to be praised. In fact, Jesus pointed out that if you seek men’s praise for your good deeds, you will get that reward, but miss a far greater reward. God wants to be the one who rewards us when we do good. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” (Isaiah 58:9b-10)
God’s rewards are not always tangible. In this passage, God talks about our deeds causing us to become light in a dark area. I believe that this talks about our stature among people and our ability to spread God’s grace to others. God’s word speaks to getting rid of oppression. This is a theme that comes up again and again throughout the Bible. It is so easy to become an oppressor. We gain a position of power and we forget those who aren’t in our social group. We forget that people judge our character more by how we treat the custodians and the waiters in our lives than in how we treat the CEOs. God obviously didn’t understand political campaigns since we are called to get rid of finger-pointing and malicious talk. Imagine what would happen if people campaigned on their own ideas instead of telling us how rotten the other guy is! We are called personally to care for the hungry. We are called personally to take care of those who are oppressed by our culture or our religious leaders. The reward we gain will probably not be financial. We may go broke caring for others. We may be swindled. Still, God calls us to care for the hungry and the oppressed.
Our reward for following God here won’t come in the form of cash, most likely. Our reward comes in who we become as a person. Our reward comes in the form of credibility as we share the gospel. Ultimately our reward comes in knowing that we are obedient to our Heavenly Father and the feeling of gratitude we gain in serving Him. Some people make this service to others a full time lifestyle. Others serve as God gives opportunity. Whatever your situation may be check your life and your actions. Do you free others from oppression or do you aid in the oppression? Do you help feed the hungry or do you ignore those in need? Our joy as followers of Christ is not found in material things; our joy as followers of Christ is found in following Him without reservation. While it seems to be true that no good deed goes unpunished in life; all good deeds bring joy as we celebrate our relationship with God serving others.
Oh Lord, how easy it is to become discouraged as we help others. I realize that I can never give enough; I run into ingratitude or am overwhelmed by the needs of others. Give me Your heart to care for the needs of others. Let me understand that faithfulness to You is my calling.