Evil Lashes Back

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When I was a child, we had a family friend who used to remark, “No good deed goes unpunished.”  My father, a Protestant minister, agreed. He said it was only natural to expect some retribution for our doing good because doing good was trying to change the balance in an often evil world. Whenever you see  starvation, disease, wickedness, insensitivity, catastrophes and disasters, it is evident the world has a dark  side to it, an entrenched evil side that causes people to need help. It is up to us to give help if we can.

To offset the evil, warped and distorted side of the world is a good man’s impulse, the obligation of grace,  and a Christian duty. Good deeds and right actions are an attempt to straighten out the world and are a  normal response to the grotesque, distorted and off balance side of life. My father felt he could prove this from the early church fathers: that applying the medicine of good in the world caused the world to have a  reaction of evil. He saw it rather like a cough medicine may cause coughing at first.

Living through the outraged reaction of living evils to any attempt of our good to change them is what  might be called our “punishment for good deeds.” When evil actions are foiled or corrected, their consequent boiling outrage at change is to be expected. But we cannot back off and just leave evil to exist,  and do nothing about bad things within our power to improve. But do not act foolishly. It takes wisdom to  know and to calculate how much good may be done to cure an evil without causing a blazing tornado of  blind reaction. Evils like poisonous snakes need to be attacked carefully since they may lash out wildly in  retribution. Such may be the punishment of our good deeds.

I agree it could be proved from the writings of the early Church fathers who suffered through widespread  persecutions that too much of the light of change too suddenly causes evil situations. I would call your  attention to Plato’s example in ”The Cave.” People sitting in a cave facing the dark rear, when turned around and brought to the light of the front entrance of the cave too quickly, are blinded and confused by being turned to the light too soon. The result is blind frenzy.

We may see a similar pulse of life scene in the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. The world’s only perfect man, the Son Of God, is sent to earth. When He comes to enlighten earth, the people living there in much  ignorance are thoroughly confused and outraged by His higher, different and transcendent views. The  outraged and confused Jewish earth mob crucifies Him.

In one sense God’s good deed to earth in Christ was quickly punished, but the grace of God wrought our higher redemption out of it. Therefore we cannot say when we find our good deeds are punished, that is the  end of the matter. That is simply all we see now on this earth . We have but seen the literal church suffering, we have not seen the spiritual church transforming suffering into redemption. For we may be sure God is working a redemption out of our suffering. We may trust in the Merciful Providence of God.

If it is true our good deeds may be punished, it is a fact any punishment inflicted on us for a good deed done sincerely out of the spirit of Christ raises us high in God’s esteem because God cherishes those who  suffer for Him as His Son did. Then let us with timely wisdom do good deeds from out of the sense of Christ we share among us and which provides inspiration.

If you are ever punished for any good deed, if you are ever made to suffer for one, you should be proud  that you did some good deed for Christ and was punished for it as He was, and many in the New Testament Church also were. It shows you have been be an instrument of His grace in your life, first is knowing His Mind, and then merging with others in a mystical unity of effort to bring in the Will of God.



Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.