Thursday, October 13, 2011

Action and character (how virtue “works”)

andre agassiWe might think that, provided you did the right thing, it did not matter how or why you did it—whether you did it willingly or unwillingly, sulkily or cheerfully, through fear of public opinion or for its own sake. But the truth is that right actions done for the wrong reason do not help to build the internal quality or character called a ‘virtue’, and it is this quality or character that really matters. (If the bad tennis player hits very hard, not because he sees that a very hard stroke is required, but because he has lost his temper, his stroke might possibly, by luck, help him to win that particular game; but it will not be helping him to become a reliable player.)

Quotes from Mere Christianity, Part 40
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins 2001) 80.

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of the verse in Corinthians, "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not
    reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver".   Attitude matters to God, and rotten attitude will always cancel out the blessing of right actions, perhaps not towards the person by whom you do right, but most certainly towards yourself.