Volume 1, Book 11, Number 624:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Apostle said, “While a man was going on a way, he saw a thorny branch and removed it from the way, and Allah became pleased by his action and forgave him for that.” Then the Prophet said, “Five are martyrs: One who dies of plague, one who dies of an abdominal disease, one who dies of drowning, one who is buried alive (and) dies and one who is killed in Allah’s cause.” (The Prophet further said, “If the people knew the reward for pronouncing the Adhan and for standing in the first row (in the congregational prayer) and found no other way to get it except by drawing lots they would do so, and if they knew the reward of offering the Zuhr prayer early (in its stated time), they would race for it and they knew the reward for ‘Isha and Fajr prayers in congregation, they would attend them even if they were to crawl.)
Referring to the first part of the Hadith.. Think about it. Removing a thorn from the way, or anything else for the matter, seems like someone else’s job. A sweeper should do it, right?
That man could’ve been a very bad person who disobeyed Allah and His Messenger (SAW). He could’ve been the most insolent, harsh, disrespectful, disloyal, disgraceful, careless person on Earth. One day, out of whatever good he still had inside his heart, he removed a thorny branch from the way. Allah liked his action so much, His Mercy overcame His anger, and He forgave that man. All because of that one good deed.
On the flip side, this man could’ve been a very pious person who obeyed Allah and worshiped Him. He could’ve been the most caring, loving, kind, respecting, obedient, loyal person of his time. And one day, out of his usual goodness, he removed a thorny branch from the way. Allah liked this deed more than any other that he had ever done. And He forgave him. All because of that one good deed.
Lesson to be learnt is: never think a good deed is too small or worthless. You never know which good deed will be the reason for your forgiveness.