Imitation of Christ Book 1 Chapter 8

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

Chapter 8 Of Obedience and Subjection

 

Summary

Obedience comes in two forms – out of necessity or out of love.  It doesn’t much matter whether you are talking about obedience to an authority here or earth or obedience to God. The first leads to bondage while the second leads to freedom. As we’ve talked about in other chapters, this is again the opposite of what you might believe to be true.

Often we think that we want our way at whatever the cost. We feel we have found freedom in doing something our own way.  In reality, we find heartache, distension and all kinds of pain.  We need to listen to the advice of others more than we give advice.  If we give advice but won’t listen and take advice from others we are willful or obstinate.

When we obey out of a heart of love we find peace.  To obey out of love means to yield your will willingly to another.  It takes a heart of humility and putting aside pride.  This is especially a challenge when we don’t agree with those in authority. It is a wise person who realizes he may not know all the details of a situation and submits even when he doesn’t understand.  This leads to peace.

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”

Imitation of Christ Book 1 Chapter 6

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

Chapter 6 Of Inordinate Affections

How do we find peace? Many seek it. For some, it seems the more they try and capture it, the quicker it seems to run through their hands like sand.  Thomas a Kempis says that the proud and greedy person will always be restless, in search of more.  If you have not completely died to self you will soon be tempted and overcome by a small thing.  Peace comes to the poor and lowly of heart. Jesus was an example of this. Matt 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

We seek worldly pleasures and desires and it leaves us sad and easily angered when anyone opposes our will. 

God has given us all things to enjoy here on earth. But when we become unbalanced in any one area, when that thing becomes too important to us we show weakness in spirit.  If we give in we feel badly and don’t find the peace we were looking for in that thing.  Kempis goes in to say, “For true peace of heart is to be found in resisting passion, not in yielding to it.” To find peace we need to be passionate towards God and live in the Spirit.

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Imitation of Christ Book 1 Chapter 5

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

Chapter 5 Of the Reading of the Holy Scriptures

When reading the Bible, don’t try and make the words fit your beliefs. Rather, form your beliefs around the truths of the Bible.  When you encounter things too deep to understand, don’t strive endlessly to figure it out.  Be content with knowing our Creator has not revealed everything to us. Focus on the things that are clear and plain.  Seek to read humbly and simply with honesty. Don’t read for the sake of learning as an ends to itself but allow the words to change your life.

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?