The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis
Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life
Chapter 2 Of Thinking Humbly of Oneself
Knowledge is desirable, but what is knowledge without the fear of God? It is better to live a simple life and serve God than have all education and wealth and live for oneself. If you are humble, you know how lowly you are. Pleasing God is more important to you than the praises of man. If I know everything, but have not love – what is that going to amount to at the end of my life?
Don’t worry about knowledge for the sake of knowledge. You will get distracted from what matters. If it doesn’t profit the soul – it is of no use. You will give an account for your knowledge. Don’t feel proud of what you know, be careful to use it wisely. If you think you know much, realize there are many people who know more than you. So, don’t flaunt what you know. If you will learn anything, learn this: love others more than yourself.
It is wise to truly judge yourself lowly. Kempis says, “To account nothing of one’s self, and to think always kindly and highly of others, this is great and perfect wisdom.” There is danger in thinking we are better than someone else because we are frail and one step from falling too.
I love how God brings up a concept over and over. For example, my son read Matt. 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” during family devotions this morning. We discussed how this verse talks about poor in spirit being humble and not poor in material possessions. Then I read this chapter on humility a few hours later.
The reminder to not focus too much on knowledge is a challenge to me as I can get so focused on the pursuit of excellence in education, that I forget knowledge without the fear of God is useless. 1 Cor. 13:2 “ If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” I was reading a friend’s blog last night and was reminded again of this truth. She was saying that nothing in life is worth getting worked up over – except Jesus. Amen. Let it be so in my life.
Here are a few verses that came to mind during the reading of this chapter.
James 3:1 “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
Mark 12:31 “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Rom 15:2 “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
Matt. 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Phil 2:3-8 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross
Matt 7:1-5 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”