Imitation of Christ Book 1 Chapter 4

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

Chapter 4 Of Prudence in Action

Summary

The dictionary defines prudence as the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason. You can’t trust your own feelings or the words of others. Each must be tried against the Bible. We are so weak, it’s easier to believe and speak evil of others rather than good.

We need not be hasty in action or stubborn in our opinions.  We need to be humble and willing to ask those more experienced than us for advice.

Imitation of Christ Book 1 Chapter 3

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

Chapter 3 Of the Knowledge of Truth

Summary

Cling to truth and not our feelings. Our feelings often lie to us. The verse we are learning as a family this week fits perfectly. Phil. 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of raise, think about these things.”

We often focus on things that aren’t going to matter for eternity. “The spirit which is pure, sincere, and steadfast, is not distracted though it hath many works to do, because it doth all things to the honour of God, and striveth to be free from all thoughts of self-seeking.” What a great reminder that all I think I need to get done today -that endless to do list doesn’t really matter in the whole scheme of life. Ouch.  In the end, what really matters to God is how my heart was – was I kind? Did I love my family and friends? Did I love God?

It is a startling reminder to me that a changed life is the goal, not knowledge. Having spent the majority of my lifetime as a teacher and student, I am focused on acquiring information and knowledge.  I need to pause and remember why I’m learning and teaching. What is the real goal? In the end will I be remembered for how many books I’ve read or how smart I am? Surely not. We are known both to men and God by how we love each.  Matt. 22:37-40 “ Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” “This quote from the book is a good summary, “And he is the truly learned man, who doeth the will of God, and forsaketh his own will.” What really matters to God? Am I focused on that today?

Happy 15th Birthday, Son

The day you were born1 Sam 1:27 ” I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him.”

Some people aspire to be doctors or lawyers, but not me.  Ever since I was a child I dreamed of being a mom. But, then came the heart-wrenching years as I prayed and waited, and prayed and waited. I remember the flood of emotions when we received the amazing words to our ears – yes, we were indeed going to have a baby.

In the beginning, I was so worried – if I twisted wrong could hurt this precious gift? I stopped watching TV and listening to country music because I didn’t want anything that wasn’t positive reaching this child’s ears.

I was so relieved when we heard a heart beat and couldn’t wait to go back to each appointment to hear it again.  That day – after hearing his heartbeat for the first time, I saw a beautiful rainbow.  The next time I heard his heartbeat I again saw another rainbow.  To this day, rainbows always are such a special reminder of those love kisses from God.

On of the toughest moments in my life was when our son, Jonathan (gift from God) Michael (who is like the Lord) was born prematurely and needed to be transported to a hospital downtown that was better equipped to deal with his needs.  I remember walking the corridor  and asking God why He let my worse fear look like it could become a reality. Would He take this boy from me? It was in those dark moments, as I wrestled with God, I choose to believe God was good – all the time.  I would choose to trust Him. While I prayed with all my heart for my son to be strong and healthy, I also had peace I hadn’t ever know.

I think in those moments in NICU, I grew more than I had in my whole rest of my life to that point combined.  For the first time in my life, I realized life wasn’t about me and my desires.  While I’d been married for years, I had a gracious and kind husband who kindly put up with my selfishness.

Fast forward fifteen years. I’m still learning and growing though being a mom. It has been the most difficult and yet most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  There have been ups and downs and I’m thankful for both.  It’s in the darkest moments, I’ve grow the most.  I thank God daily he heard my cries and answered my prayers.  (As a side note, Jonathan is healthy with no complications from being a preemie. And, God doubly blessed us when we were given his miracle sister. But, I’ll save that story for her birthday!)

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Jon,

You have been a blessing to my life and I’m so thankful you are our son. You have a kind and compassionate heart. It’s been so much fun watching you develop into the man you are becoming.  I can’t believe you will be able to drive in six months.  I am proud of your passion with drawing, guitar and sports.  You are doing well in school and it’s a privilege to be a part of your life and your education. You think deeply and ask lot of questions and I think that will serve you well in life. I pray for you every day and can’t wait to see how the next fifteen years turn out.  I would have never guessed the last would have gone so fast – and I’m sure the next will too.  That’s why I want to pause and let you know I’m so proud of you. I love you with my whole heart.  Happy Birthday, Son.

Love,
Mom

Imitation of Christ Book 1 Chapter 2

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

Chapter 2 Of Thinking Humbly of Oneself

Summary

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.

Commentary

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.

Verses

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.”

The Imitation of Christ – Book 1 Chapter 1

the-imitation-of-christThe Imitation of Christ by Tomas a Kempis. After reading the first few chapter of the book, I realized how much depth there is to it.  In an effort to absorb the truths and not just skim over them, I am going to summarize each chapter as we read through them.

Book One -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

Chapter One – Of the Imitation of Christ and of Contempt of the World and all it’s Vanities

John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

How does a person live a successful life? He must follow the truth of John 8:12 and imitate his life after Christ’s. The practical way to do this is to read and study the Bible over any other book. But, to study it is not the end in itself.  Christ’s life needs to chance you from the inside out.

If you know the Bible but do not practice it, what good is that? You don’t become holy by how much you know, but by how you live.  Kempis goes on to say, “I had rather feel contrition than be skilful in the definition thereof.”

You also need to not seek riches, popularity, sinful desires and long life. Rather seek a good life and focus on what is eternal and not what is in the moment.