Doing a good deed is sometimes compared to the act of throwing a stone into the middle of a pond. If you do something good to someone else, so the analogy goes, they in turn will pass your good deed onto another person who will pass it on to another person, etc. The result, in theory, is that ripples of love and goodwill will flow throughout your entire community just because you initiated one good deed.
The problem with this analogy is that it doesn’t take into account the counter ripples caused by selfish, hurtful actions. These “ripples” are powerful and numerous, and they can quench the good ripples very quickly. Human experience has shown that it is easier for humans to have a selfish attitude than a selfless one, and hence, the negative ripples often defeat the good ripples.
Therefore, you are not ever going to make the world a better place by passively sitting back and passing on the “ripples” to other people. If you are the kind of person who does unto others exactly what they do to you first, you will do more bad things than good things. In order for you to change the world you have to do good deeds to the very people who do bad things to you.
This is very hard to do. This means, for instance, you must treat your boss with respect, even when he lies to you and tries to cheat you out of overtime pay. It means you have to pay your taxes even when they are not fair. It means you have to love and serve your spouse even when they are sinning against you.
Jesus is our ultimate example for how to do this. If He had not lovingly died for us while we were still his enemies, none of us would have had a chance to escape from eternal hell. He didn’t die for us because we deserved it, He died for us because He loved us.
Therefore we should have the same attitude:
“in humility value others above yourselves,4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death —
even death on a cross!” (Phillippians 2:3-8 NIV)