📙 The Imitation of Christ
Author: Thomas à Kempis
Full Title: The Imitation of Christ
Of the Imitation of Christ
Let it be the most important thing we do, then, to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ.
Anyone who wishes to understand Christ’s words and to savor them fully should strive to become like him in every way.
I would much rather feel profound sorrow for my sins than be able to define the theological term for it. If you knew the whole Bible by heart and the sayings of all the philosophers, what good would it all be without God’s love and grace? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and to serve only him.
This is the highest wisdom: to see the world as it truly is, fallen and fleeting; to love the world not for its own sake, but for God’s; and to direct all your effort toward achieving the kingdom of heaven.
Often remember that saying: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.”
Of Having a Humble Opinion about Yourself
Everyone naturally wishes to have knowledge, but what good is great learning unless it is accompanied by a feeling of deep awe and profound reverence toward God? Indeed, a humble farmer who serves God is better than a proud philosopher, who, neglecting himself, contemplates the course of the heavens.
Calm that excessive thirst for knowledge, for there is great discord and deception in it.
Endless reading and talk do not satisfy the soul, but a good life puts the mind at rest, and a clean conscience brings great confidence in God.
The more you know and the better you know it, the greater is your responsibility for using your knowledge wisely.
So, do not think highly of yourself because of what you know about any art or science, but rather respect the knowledge that has been entrusted to you.
If you want to learn something that will really help you, learn to see yourself as God sees you and not as you see yourself in the distorted mirror of your own self-importance.
Of the Teaching of Truth
Our opinions and our understanding often lead us astray and offer us very little insight. What good is a brilliant argument about hidden and obscure matters when God does not judge us by our knowledge of such things?
O God, the Truth, make me one with you in endless love! I am often worn out by all that I read and hear; you are all that I want or desire. Let all teachers hold their peace.
A pure, simple and steady spirit is not distracted by flitting about from one thing to another, for he does all things to the honor of God and tries in his heart to be free from all selfishness.
Knowledge is not to be blamed, nor is the simple understanding of anything which is good in itself and which is made to be so by God, but a good conscience and a virtuous life are always to be put first.
Surely, when the day of judgment comes we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done, not how well we have spoken but how devoutly we have lived.
Oh, how swiftly the glory of the world passes away! If only their lives had been in harmony with their learning, then all their studying and reading would have been worthwhile.
Of Thinking Before You Act
We should not trust every word that we hear or every feeling in our hearts; rather, we should bring such matters before God and carefully ponder them at our leisure.
Instead of following your own notions, consult someone who is wise and conscientious, and seek to be guided by one who is better than yourself.
Of Reading of Holy Writings
We should read devout and simple books as willingly as we read those that are lofty and profound.
If you wish to profit from your reading, read with Humility, simplicity and faith, and do not try to impress others with your great learning.
Of Confused Feelings
Whenever a person becomes obsessed with success and material things, he quickly becomes restless.
A person who is weak in spirit and who is still controlled by his need to be important has great trouble dragging himself away from the things that most attract him in this world. Such a person is unhappy when he does restrain himself, yet his anger flares up if anyone stands in his way. What is more, if he does get what he wants, he is at once stricken by a heavy conscience because he has given in to his weakness.
Of Avoiding Empty Hope and Self-Praise
Do not be ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus Christ and to appear poor in this world.
Do not be pleased with yourself about your ability or talent, lest you displease God, from whom comes the sum of whatever natural good you have.
Do not be proud of your good deeds, for God’s judgments differ from ours, and he is often displeased by what pleases us.
A person who is humble is always at peace, but a proud person carries a heart filled with envy and resentment.
Of Avoiding Inappropriate Intimacy
Do not spend much time with young people or strangers; instead, develop the friendships you have, especially with those who are older and wiser than you are.
Of Finding Peace and Making Spiritual Progress