No Good Deed

I never saw the cat.

Its teeth, now—those, I felt.  They were sunk into my calf, just above the ankle.  For about half a second before the pain registered, I remember hearing the sound of an angry (or was it terrified?) mama of the feline species.

It wasn’t enough warning.  

There was going to be blood.  I just knew it.

No good deed goes unpunished.

The adage has been in popular usage for a number of years now.  I find myself saying it now and then, not as absolute fact, but simply to explain the unhappy events which seem to occur even as I happen to be on my best behavior. 

I was helping move a dresser out of my daughter’s house.  Her husband and I had carried the unwieldy thing down a flight of stairs and wound our way through the dining room and then the living room.

I walked backward the entire time.  I don’t really mind going backward if the end result is to make progress in a positive direction.

The problem with walking backward is that one is dependent on other folk to sound a warning if you are about to do something foolish—like step on the sweet little mama cat who is rushing to get out of the way of that monster piece of furniture and the two humans on either end of it.

I was simply trying to be helpful.  It didn’t stop the sharp little teeth of the frightened feline from piercing my skin.

No good deed. . .

It’s not true, you know.

The cat bite was not payment for my good deed.  It was nothing more than a natural event.  I stepped on the cat’s foot and it did the only thing it knew to do.

It wasn’t her fault.  Nor mine.

I have heard the discussion innumerable times.  God is testing me. 

Possibly.  Possibly not.

There are passages in the Word which speak of that process.  I may be forgetting some, but it seems that, overall, God uses the tests which come along, but doesn’t necessarily cause them.

I especially like the words we find in the book of James.  They state the case simply.  More importantly, they give me hope.  

Really.  Hope.

I used to be discouraged because I have never thought it a joyful occasion when I was in dire straits.  I felt guilty and somewhat like a failure.

The reality is we’re told to consider it an opportunity for great joy.  The joy comes in persevering.  It comes in standing firm and then making our way out on the other side of the trial.  The finished product will be just that—finished and complete.  (James 1:2-4)

Joy comes with the finished product! Click To Tweet

Joy comes with the finished product!  But, here’s the thing:  We have to stick with doing the good things that have been put before us.

He will use the testing to make us into the men and women He wants us to be.

But, in the midst of disaster, we have to keep slogging on through.

Whether blood is running down our ankle or not, we keep carrying the burden.

Whether he is grateful or demanding, we help our neighbor.

Even if it means our livelihood or friendships, we stand on the side of truth and justice.

He knows me.  When I have been tested, I’ll come through as pure gold.

No, not this scribe.  I’m not ready to make that claim.  Yet.  

Job was, though.  (Job 23:10)

Talk about no good deed going unpunished!  That man knew the length, width, and depth of testing.  And still, he was determined.  He would follow his God.  

To the death he would follow Him, if need be.

And, come through with flying colors.  Shining as gold.

I have been discouraged a good bit recently.  The insignificant cat-nipping event aside, I have been wondering—both to myself in the dim and quiet hours, and aloud to others in the light of day—if the result will be worth the cost.  I know many who are in similar situations.

Discouragement and exhaustion are the detours frequented by those on the journey who are soon to fail in their missions.  

Discouragement and exhaustion are detours, frequented by those soon to fail in their missions. Click To Tweet

Encourage each other while it is still daylight.  (Hebrews 3:13)

While the blood is yet streaming from the bites, and the sweat is dripping from the foreheads, we help others along their journey.  We must.

The truth is that no good deed goes unseen and unrewarded.

Not one.

It’s not an adage.

It’s a promise.

Whether we’re walking backwards, with no way to see the path before us, or running at breakneck speed toward the finish line, we keep moving.

That way.  

Toward home.



God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
(Hebrews 6:10 ~ NIV)*


He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to do another and harder and better one.
( C.S. Lewis ~ British author/theologian ~ 1898-1963)


*Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “No Good Deed

  1. Paul,

    You mentioned my good friend Job.The one who was determined to trust God no matter what. I want to be like him. And Like Joseph who kept doing what was right even though it LOOKED like it didn’t pay off. Perhaps those who believe no good deed will go unpunished are those who are doing it TO BE noticed.

    Then there are those who just ask God, “What do YOU want me to do today?” And for them, it’s clear. They just do it. And sometimes it could be encouraging a stumbling saint. Sometimes it could be keeping our mouths closed when graceless words want to fly out. And sometimes. Sometimes it’s just singing hymns to Him. Because no matter what, He is worthy. Plus he loves those just me and him times.

    I appreciate your words and the way they trickle out of you. (And I know that they really don’t.) But you sure make them look like that.

  2. Amen, Paul! God can use any and every situation we find ourselves in to bring us closer to Him, and mold us into the people He created us to be. May we all keep lugging those dressers even when the cat bites!

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