Lutheran Hour Ministries

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"Good Deeds Punished"

May 17, 2018

Acts 2:23-25 - (Peter said) "This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it."

There's an old expression: "No good deed ever goes unpunished."

Just about every time I share that line in front of a group of people, someone will point out that it is a pretty pessimistic philosophy. I can't argue with them. It is. Sadly, at times, it happens to be true.

Case in point: Kyle Byler, eighth-grade teacher at Hand Middle School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. By most reports, he is a teacher's teacher, the kind of instructor who gives of himself and goes out of his way to help the kids in his charge.

Recently, Byler spent a week giving mandated, standardized tests to his class. Now almost any teacher who has run the gauntlet of those tests will tell you they don't just measure what a student has learned. They also challenge his attention span, stamina, patience, concentration, and the ability to remain cool and not panic.

In the case of Kyle Byler's class there is an additional problem. Ninety-five percent of his class come from low-income families. What that means is this: some of these kids are taking these tests with an empty, growling stomach. It is a condition which complicates things and doesn't lend itself to an exemplary performance.

Byler, being the kind of teacher he is, came up with a solution. He brought in an electric griddle and fried up one whole-grain pancake for each of his kids to eat during the test.

His plan might have worked if the school's assistant principal hadn't walked in and, both literally and figuratively, pulled the plug on Mr. Byler. Afterwards, the teacher was told he would be fired for what he had done. Yep, you heard that right. Even though there are no rules in the test book about feeding kids, somebody felt Mr. Byler couldn't monitor the test and cook whole wheat pancakes, too.

You see, no good deed ever goes unpunished.

Thankfully, in this case there is a rest of the story. Hearing what might happen, some students staged a protest, and numerous parents attended the board meeting to express support for their teacher-friend. The end result was Mr. Byler got to keep his job.

Good deeds never go unpunished.

I wonder if the Savior ever felt that way? He came to bring light to our sin-darkened world. In love He reached out to the lost, the forsaken, the rejected, and those who were ill in body and in soul. And how were His good deeds rewarded?

The folks in His hometown tried to kill Him; the pillars of the Jewish community called Him a "devil," a "Samaritan," and a "false prophet." The Jewish religious leaders bribed witnesses to lie about Him at a kangaroo court and justice was denied Him by His government. He was betrayed by one close friend, denied by another, and deserted by all the rest. He was railroaded to the cross by those He had come to save.

Thankfully, the Savior's story does not end on Golgotha or at the empty sepulcher. Three days after His burial, a risen, living Lord Jesus showed to all the world that He had conquered sin, death, and devil. He told how God's grace was offering forgiveness and eternal life to all who would be brought to faith. Which means the story continues on as the Holy Spirit moves souls from damnation to salvation.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks for the rest of Jesus' story that brings Your good news to sinful human hearts. May the Holy Spirit transform unbelievers so they, too, may be welcomed into the family of faith. This I ask in the Savior's Name. Amen.

The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Kate Seamons for Newser on April 17, 2018. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: