The “virtue” of doing for doing’s sake

London Business PeopleC. S. Lewis in a letter to a female correspondent, on intemperance in work (1956):

Don’t be too easily convinced that God really wants you to do all sorts of work you needn’t do. Each must do his duty ‘in that state of life to which God has called him.’ Remember that a belief in the virtues of doing for doing’s sake is characteristically feminine, characteristically American, and characteristically modern: so that three veils may divide you from the correct view!

There can be intemperance in work just as in drink. What feels like zeal may be only fidgets or even the flattering of one’s self-importance. As MacDonald says, ‘In holy things may be unholy greed.’ And by doing what ‘one’s station and its duties’ does not demand, one can make oneself less fit for the duties it does demand and so commit some injustice. Just you give Mary a little chance as well as Martha!

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