05 October 2015

Of Thinking Humbly of Ourselves-a'Kempis

I finally started reading The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a'Kempis (1380 - 1471). I only made it as far as chapter 2 before I stopped to ponder. These words captured my attention and convicted my spirit. I have updated and paraphrased the language from the version I have to improve readability so thou art not plagued with obfuscation.

All men naturally desire to know (Ecc 1:13); but what good is knowledge without the fear of God? Surely a humble husband that serves God is better than a proud philosopher that, neglecting himself, labors to understand the course of the heavens. The man who knows himself well is lowly in his own sight and does not delight in the praises of men. If I understood all things in the world, yet were not charitable what would that help me in the sight of God, who will judge me according to my deeds? [I have a theological quibble with this statement, a point I would want to clarify, but I will leave it aside for just now]

Stop obsessively trying to know so much, because when you do, you are distracted and deceived. Learned men are happy to be seen as smart to others and to be considered wise (1 Cor 8:1). There are many things that you can know about that do not profit your soul and the man who focuses upon those other things, but ignores his salvation, is very unwise. Reading many words does not satisfy the soul; but a good life comforts the mind and a pure conscience gives great assurance in the sight of God. 

The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely you will be judged, unless you also grow in holiness. Do not be proud for any art or science that you know, but rather let your knowledge make you more humble and cautious. If you think you know a lot, realize that there is a lot you don't know. Don't pretend you are smarter than you are; rather, acknowledge your ignorance (Rom 12:16). Why would you prefer yourself before others since there are many who are smarter and more skillful in the Scriptures than you are? If you want to profit from what you learn, desire to be unknown, to be little esteemed before man. 

The highest, most beneficial reading is to truly know ourselves. True wisdom and perfection are to know that of ourselves, we amount to nothing, but instead to think well of others. If you see someone else sin, don't think to highly of yourself because you don't know how long you will be able to remain in good estate. 

We are all frail (Gen 8:21), but you ought to hold none more frail than yourself. 

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