Imitation of Christ Book 1 Chapter 21

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

Chapter 19 Of Compunction of Heart

Compunction. I had to look it up in the dictionary.  Here’s what I found.

Compunction –  A pricking of heart; poignant grief or remorse proceeding from a consciousness of guilt; the pain of sorrow or regret for having offended God, and incurred his wrath; the sting of conscience proceeding from a conviction of having violated a moral duty. Synonyms: conscience, repentance, remorse. Antonyms: indifference or defiance

So compunction of heart would mean to take the time to think about my attitudes and actions and feel badly for my shortcomings.  Ahhh…now I see why I wasn’t familiar with the word.  While I have been a little uncomfortable with some of the strong stoic themes in The Imitation of Christ,  this chapter in particular caused me pause.  Have we lost something in the last 600 years?

Have we as a culture, in an effort to build self confidence thrown the baby out with the bath water?  Don’t get me wrong, I think Scripture has much to say about encouragement.

1 Thes. 5:11  “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Eph. 4:29Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” 

Scripture also has much to say about sin and repentance.

2 Cor. 7:8-10 Paul says, “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.  As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

There is good guilt and bad guilt.  Good guilt is understanding how your attitudes or actions have reduced the glory of God.  It leads to a change of ways.  Bad guilt is condemning yourself over and over with nothing ever changing. This type of guilt is not what we are talking about here and is not from God.

1 John 1:9 says, ” If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

I’m so thankful for a God who provides a way for us to live in freedom and happiness.  My today prayer is:

Psalms 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me,  and lead me in the way everlasting!”

The beginning of compunction is the beginning of a new life. (George Eliot)

More George Eliot quotes at

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