Good Deeds

     The sixth chapter of Nehemiah describes a dilemma that many of us sometimes face. Nehemiah had accepted the responsibility to rebuild the security wall that bordered the city of Jerusalem. More than a century before, the Babylonian army laid siege to the capital city demolishing the walls that served as its protection.
     With the restoration plan in place, Nehemiah organized the cadre of people who joined him in this undertaking. Partway through the renovation process, a small band of detractors gathered led by a man named Sanballat. Sanballat sent an open letter accusing Nehemiah of staging a coup against Artaxerxes, the king of Persia. The accusation bore no semblance to the truth. Nonetheless, the unwelcomed attack against Nehemiah’s sterling character did untold damage to his reputation.
     To his credit, Nehemiah did not allow Sanballat’s verbal attacks to assuage him from finishing his task. This is good news. The bad news, as some might point out, is that this incident serves as an example of the maxim: no good deed goes unpunished.
     I understand why some people agree with this watchword. I have been punished because I helped people who didn’t want to be helped. I’ve been rebuffed when I stood up for people who didn’t ask me to defend them. In less confrontive instances, I’ve been stiffed by those to whom I loaned money.
     I once helped a woman who was being abused by her husband find safe sanctuary. A few days later, I called to see how she was doing. She told me to mind my own business before hanging up.
     Some people are uncomfortable with being helped. I get that. But I refuse to believe that every good deed is punished. Therefore, I will not stop helping. With experience, I have learned ways to help that don’t backfire as often. I learned to gauge my motives and help others for their sake and not mine. I have discovered to pick the right battles and battle for the right reasons.
     The truth is I am a work in progress. I am learning to become a better helper. And, though some of my deeds may be punished, I will continue to help people because it’s good for me. And, sometimes it’s good for them, too.