Is it True That no Good Deed Goes Unpunished?

Lately I have been hearing the same quote over and over again: “No good deed goes unpunished.”

At work, this quote seems to be the norm. People warn me against volunteering because you’ll be “re-volunteered” in the future. Don’t do a good job on a project, because you’ll get more work. Don’t help people, because they’ll just want more help in the future. Don’t be nice, because then people will walk all over you.

Have you ever heard that nice guys finish last? In a way, it ties into the above quote.

Here are some examples that support that I have been punished for some of my good deeds.

Helping a Stranded Motorist

A week or so ago, a guy’s front-left tire had fallen completely off of his vehicle. His car was blocking one lane of traffic and people were dangerously attempting to pass the vehicle.

I parked my vehicle on the side of the road and asked if I could help move the vehicle. The guy scoffed at my attempt at helping.

“Hello? There’s no freakin’ tire on the car. How the heck am I supposed to move it?”

What I wanted to tell him is that a car will still move without a tire, just not easily. He was waiting for help so I can imagine them putting a new tire on the car in the middle of the roadway.

I offered the guy some water, and he just told me to go away.

Giving a Lady a Ride

Last thanksgiving I was driving through Memphis and pulled into a McDonalds to use the restroom. While leaving, I lit up a cigarette. Some lady frantically asked me if I could just give her a ride down the street. She said, “It’s kinda of an emergency.”

I hesitated, and replied back, “Lady, I do not know this city at all. I’m just passing through.”

She again asked and I eventually said OK.

Just as the lady was about to get into my car, her boyfriend stormed out of McDonalds threatening me. I got into my vehicle, locked the doors, and got out of there as fast as I could.

Helping a Runaway

When I was fifteen, my friend showed up at school with several bruises on his face. His parents were beating him. I offered to have him stay at my place. Essentially I was helping him runaway.

A few days later, my dad got a call and asked if I was helping somebody run away. One of my friends at school had ratted us out and my friend’s parents were on to me.

The next day, my friend and I were playing basketball outside and his parents showed up out of nowhere. They immediately started hitting him and threatened to throw me in jail.

The next day my friend showed up at school in brand new clothes and never spoke to me again.

Conclusion

I am of the belief that is a Christian’s duty to help people in need. Whether this good deed goes punished or unpunished shouldn’t matter. We should never be deterred from helping somebody just because of the negative consequences.

On the other hand, I am appalled that a Good Samaritan‘s law even needs to exist.

What do you think? Is it true that no good deed goes unpunished?

30 Comments

  1. I believe it's good that Good Samaritan laws exist, at least I know that I won't be prosecuted for trying to help someone.

    I think that saying NO good deed goes unpunished is an overstatement. It's not true about ALL good deeds, only about some of them and with certain people. And like you said, we should never get discouraged from helping others or being nice to them only because some jerks we meet on our path.

    On the other hand, I think it's part of a human nature – we get spoiled too quickly, we get many things and people for granted, and unfortunately many people think that others owe it to them to be nice and helpful.

  2. /agree with inspirationbit about the Good Samaritan laws. Similar logic to passing a John Doe law in order to protect those who legitimately report suspicious activity to authorities (i.e. the flying imams in MN).

    Broken record here. 🙂 Some good deeds are punished, other are not. "Punished" could probably use some definition, though.

    cetroyer

  3. Unfortunately, I have often felt as if I was being punished for helping others, doing a good job, or just doing what I thought was expected of me. I guess you shouldn't stop doing what you think is right just because it doesn't always turn out well, but I admit to avoiding human contact in some cases just to dodge trouble. For example, I've come to avoid eye contact with strangers because of the trouble it has brought in the past. Sometimes it just seems like the whole world is crazy. I mean c'mon! You stop to help some guy in trouble, and he just insults you? What's that about? I really can't understand why the whole world is in such a bad mood these days. Just one more reason to move to Montana and fly fish for the rest of my life…although I did have some guy in Montana yell at me (rather violently – totally uncalled for) for inadvertantly parking in front of his house, which was indistiguishable from the fly shop next door. Maybe it's impossible to get away from it. Take care,

    Nathan

  4. Off-topic: Julianne Moore kept said that more than once in the movie "Next", and each time Nicolas Cage looked as if he wanted to ignore her, beat her up or cry.

    Sorry, totally off-topic, I think? Unless you tie morales, or any remote possibility of a morale, from the movie into your post. :p

  5. I stopped helping people a long time ago, i just act like i do not see people, i have helped people, the day after you help them they act is if nothing has happen and do not know you, it is sad to say most people focus more on negative than they do good, one thing i realize is all i can do is control my time and money, i cannot change other people, when helping others always listen to your inner voice if it says no you better listen, the saying no good deed goes unpunished is true.

    • My experience has been that it is almost inevitable that some form of punishmnet follows good deeds. I have therefore concluded that if we feel compelled to continue doing good anyway, then the key to surviving the punishmnet is to accept that punishment may come and look beyond it to the good results of the good deed. And if you are Christian, you should understand that your good works “echoes in eternity”

      Ga 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
      2Th 3:13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

      • I so wish that I didn’t agree with this. However… I cannot count the amount of times that I have helped someone when they are in dire need and yet somehow once their life is back on track I am not only forgotten but vilified… I just don’t get it!!! The worst thing is I just can’t help it. Watching someone in pain or distress and looking the other way is just so alien to my nature but as I have gotten older I wish I could lose that side of me.. Very sad but very true 🙁

  6. fc,

    I’ll still continue to help people. One of the reasons I’m learning Spanish is to help those who need translating (and to take some cool vacations). I believe there is a God that rewards us, even if noone on this Earth gives a damn.

  7. I do like helping people,but i have learned you cannot help everybody,my father taught when helping others do it for your self,i also listen to my inner voice which is 90% right, when doing things for other i always use common sense.

  8. What is that poem that gives many different senerios for good deeds that are punished but it states, “Do good anyway.” That’s my philosophy. God in heaven knows your good deeds, you do not do good deeds to impress people, but do be like Christ.
    So…do good anyway.
    🙂

    • People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
      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 will try to cheat you. Be honest anyway.
      What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway.
      If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous of you. Be happy anyway.
      The good you do today, will often be forgotten by tomorrow. Do good anyway.
      Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
      For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

  9. In my opinion you do not help people looking for god to reward you, i still think that no good deed goes unpunished is very true, I have learned my lessons helping people good and bad.

  10. I still have not changed my opinion that no good deed goes unpunished, it is sad but the saying is true, i do not mind being nice but i am very cautious out going out of my way for people, it is not the deed in itself it how people react that makes the deed punished, if people were raise right by their parents we would not have any problems with unappreciative people.

  11. My husband took his mother’s car keys away as she insisted on driving on an expired license in an unregistered car. He refuses to give them back to her. The car has scrapes and dents, all of which are the “other person’s fault.” She is 88.

    When she realized he was not going to give them back, she told him to leave. (We live in different states.) So my husband is stuck waiting in a motel until his return flight allows him to come home.

    No good deed goes unpunished.

  12. Yes doing a good deed can you in trouble in this wacky world.Unfornutly it seems from just my experince even putting up a psoter to not throw useful things away and take them to goodwill is crime to management.
    Taking some useful things out of the dumpster like clean toys and giving them to a charity I got busted for.
    It wasn’t a thing I had to do but it’s because I felt caring and love towards poor children and spreading happyness to them.
    But I got yelled at very harshly not to do it again and wasn’t believed when I said I was sorry.
    So yes it’s an ugly side of humanity that some people don’t care how anything effects the enviorment or someone else.
    I apperciate you put up a website or blog giving examples because I thought the world was run by black and white.If you were bad like {robbing,murdering,tortureing etc} you got caught as it goes in fairytales and superheros.
    But the world is nothing like I innocently thought.
    There are good people but some just don’t care and that’s sad to me.

  13. Dang I spelled “poster” wrong.

  14. It came to me Jesus was nailed on the cross and crusified by the poeple for being a good samaritan.
    Then he said “Forgive them Father for they Know not what they do”
    Jesus used that action for good of mankind but still there seems like a simular connection between those people and now.
    I could be wrong I don’t know everything.
    I don’t mean to take up room on the blog but I feel I had to say it to get it out of me.

  15. I believe this concept is one of the scariest aspects of a calling to Christian discipleship, but an integral part nonetheless. Unfortunately it’s not always safe, convenient and predictable when we’re expected to step forward and do the right thing. The older I get, the more firmly I believe that it’s not up to me to decide what’s convenient or “if” I’ll do the right thing when the opportunity arises. If I’m called, it’s my Christian obligation to answer then and there, rather than letting God go to voice mail. While it’s admittedly much simpler in principle than in practice, we’re always expected to put our fellow person before our self (ALWAYS…it’s in the book). We should expect that there may be repercussions from our kind acts, but find solace in what we were taught directly by the big guy….

    Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
    Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

    (I know this is followup to a rather old thread, but this blog post offered up a wonderful chat topic for a recent Sunday School discussion….Thanks! Just thought I’d offer up my somewhat idealistic 2 cents.)

  16. Lynn there is a saying that beggars should not be choicey, if those people yelled at me i would not help them no more.

    I have learned to deal with people on a individual basis you give each person a chance to prove that they are worth your kindess in the future.

  17. Here are my questions: (and it would work for you too)

    Am I smarter than Jesus? Answer is of course: NO!
    Am I better than Jesus? Answer is of course: NO!
    Am I a better Good Smaritan than Jesus? Answer is of course: NO!
    Am I a better judge of character than Jesus? Answer is of course: NO!

    Then Jesus said “Forgive them Father for they Know not what they do”

    So…in other words…Why in HEAVEN would I, a simple mortal, think it would be different and “better” for me?

    I believe that ALL those sayings e.g. “Help someone who can’t return the favor”, “Do all the good you can, and make as little fuss about it as possible.”, “The more I help others to succeed, the more I succeed.” etc. etc. were ALL said (or rumored to have been said) by conmen or people emotionally unstable at one point or another. Of course, some people truly mean it, but apply it to the wrong “needy” people.

    I have NEVER EVER been approached by a SUCCESSFUL, well-to-do, happy individual to “help others”. I have seen countless of friends and family members get SUCKED IN into helping others and then got ROYALLY ******!

    I have helped a few people (4) in my life, but they were TRULY exceptional people that were meant to SUCCEED! I thought about it carefully and if you really want to make the RIGHT decisions about helping others, you MUST read the Book: Why Flip a Coin? by H.W. Lewis.

    It will help you take/make the RIGHT decisions in order to avoid sour feelings. I don’t think I have to tell you that every time you become a victim, a piece of you dies, thus chipping away at your self-esteem and self-confidence. I truly recommend the book.

    Just trying to help…as my Dad showed me the ropes very very early in life. It has been a LIFE-SAVER!

    As my Dad used to say: “People are where they are, because of WHO they are!”

  18. It’s true, good deeds are often punished. My friends and I were fishing on a party boat. When we initially paid for our tickets, I was the only one who entered the fishing pool ($5). We caught an entire cooler of fish and lost count on who caught which fish. I ended up winning the pool with fish from the cooler and used half of the money to tip the mates for cleaning our fish. My friend was angry at me for tipping the mates and for not offering to split the money between us. Good deed: benefit as many people as possible. Punishment: losing a friend.

  19. I tried, I really tried to be a good neighbor today. I went out to the mailbox and noticed a package that had slipped off the porch into last year’s annuals. As you know, annual plants look great in the summer, but a lot like dead weeds in the winter. I retrieved the package and brought it in.

  20. It’s sad how some people almost choose to be miserable. Your post made me think of this other one I found a while ago – http://susanawildner.com/blog/challenge-smile. It’s hard to get mad at someone for just smiling.

  21. yes this is why ignore strangers. i just don’t gaf no more. a lot of times people put themselves a position. i only deal with people i know. no good goes unpunished is true.

  22. do you really want to do good deeds? I will tell you the only safe way to do it. if you’re seeing man broke down on the side of the road call him a tow truck. you would see a man who can’t fill out government paperwork like lets say like Social Security. don’t you help. if any information is wrong you will be arrested for fraud. instead tell him to go to the Social Security office where they will fill it out for him. if the person has trouble with the floor like I was arrested. just tell him about the off free legal services. and don’t get involved. guilt by association is a real law. a person want your help fixing a car. give them a phone number of a good mechanic that works cheap. if you help and break something he’ll want a brand new car car out of you. some guy or girl needs a ride. call him a taxi. are handsome the phone number to the taxi cab service. and the more help you give to a person the more help he’s gonna want from you to a point where he won’t reach 5 feet to get the TV clicker. so tell the people where you draw the line and help right off the back and stand your ground. always help with information where they can get help from a professional. that’s being the best type of person thats type of friend and you’re doing God’s bidding by helping others. giving good sound advice is the best help of all. and remember asking an officer to help your friend is an act of love.

  23. I used to help people and enjoyed it very much by just a thank you. Over the years now no one respects help and in some cases find ways to be dissatisfied with my above and beyond attempts. I believe I am shaped by my lack of respect from my attempts that I now do nothing for anyone. I don’t like that I have become this way but it no longer rewarding. I don’t get people today. You actually help or improved their lives some how and they punish you for it. Last incident, I work in Retail, a customer purchased a recon lawn mower. Its sold as is where is. It was missing the key start assembly. Still can be started manually. The department supervisor didn’t know how to handle it and asked for my help. I worked in a different department. But I was excited for the challenge and enjoyed trying to make this customer happy. I couldn’t order the part through our store. So instead I called the manufacture. They gave me a hard time and said they would only get the part if we paid for it. And I talked to their management to no avail. It was expensive for us to purchase. I decided to wait a day and call back and just say it was missing out of the box. After talking to countless people and getting drilled on why it was missing, I finally got the part and it was being sent to the customer’s house in 10 days. I was excited I got this new part for free for the customer. I called and talked to her and let her know it took some convincing to get the part and it would be at her house in 10 days or less. She was very upset that it will take 10 days. That I should have it express shipped. She was berating and said this was very unacceptable! I apologized for any inconvenience and stated that the item was sold as is and really wasn’t included in the purchase. But I got it for her anyway. She was screaming and said she’ll get with corporate and she’ll write letters on this poor service. I told her there was nothing more I can do. She told me she had to go she, “was on a plane right now and maybe she’ll calm down”. I can’t tell you how shock and applauded I was to hear this entire fiasco go down. Really? You’re on a plane going out of town! How fast do you really need it? I had another customer right after this one with the exact same results! I told that department supervisor not to bring anyone else to me. I was done. Why don’t people appreciate you helping them? I just don’t get it. These two got something for free and was upset over it. That part assembly would have cost about $100. The price reflected that purchase. Unbelievable.

  24. Wow what a great article

  25. Let me just say to everyone reading this. This world we live in takes all kinds, good and bad. Never be discouraged from helping someone because you’re afraid you may be punished for it. It will eat at you thinking to yourself, should I have helped them. Do it and know you did the right thing regardless of the outcome.

  26. Look at the volume of people who have done good here…whether those helped were “unappreciative narcissists” without the capacity to respond in a positive way, or in their usual assholish behavior, is simply immaterial. The good deed was performed and sent its corresponding positive vibration energy through consciousness…echoing in eternity.

    As my mother’s good friend since Jr. High school (until the day he was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968) is quoted, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

    No “good deed” goes unpunished. In 1994, Rosa Parks was robbed and beaten by a black male in Detroit.

    In 2015 Atlanta, GA, a living memory (84 year old sister in law) of the saint himself (MLK, Jr.) has been carjacked and attacked (punched in the face after refused her car keys) by a black male.

  27. Yes ~it seems that no good deed goes unpunished. I have had it happen again and again. And in my experience, besides random strangers, it has also been family who totally took me for granted, and treated me shabbily afterwards. Despite that, they had no problem expecting more help after not even appreciating it the last go round.

    In that case it seems one is “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. When I helped again I simply got more of the same lack of appreciation. When I said I have had enough of this treatment, I got blamed for not being a good person. (Despite that I helped countless times before that seemed to have been forgotten.) When I said, hey I have done much for you, how can you say this- I was actually told by my aunt that apparently I NEVER helped her out of sincerity and the goodness of my heart and only did it to throw it at her now. Absolutely NO winning any way you cut it.

    Have I had to learn how not to be an absolute mat that is used to wipe your feet on? Yes. But do I still help people? Yes. I won’t let the bitter apples spoil it for any people that I encounter that may need help. Will I risk getting a big slap in the face for my help? Sure. But since my aunt is entirely wrong about me and I DO help others out of the goodness of my heart- I will still be a kind and helpful person. Because that’s just who I am.

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