the wisdom of humility

Pride is a trap for every growing Christian. So very few make spiritual maturity a priority it is difficult not to compare our progress with the lack of progress in others.

Any comparison where I come out on top actually leads to me loosing.

I love the following chapter from Imitation, it’s as if Thomas was writing it specifically for my personal struggles. For this reason, I make it a goal to read it a few times every week. Here are a few of the ways that I am challenged by this teaching:

  1. Understanding and knowledge lack value when isolated from humility and love. Being intellectual may impress people, but it doesn’t impress God.
  2. Knowledge leads to anxiety. The more we know, the more we can worry.
  3. Knowledge also leads to delusion—false belief. When we are so confident in one area, we become confident in all areas—even when we shouldn’t be so convinced.
  4. A good life makes a deeper impact than understanding. When we are smarter than others, they see something beyond their grasp. When we life a good life, they are inspirited to do the same.
  5. More knowledge means more responsibility. Knowledge definitely isn’t unless in the kingdom, far from it! In fact, the more we understand, the more will be judged. To whom much is given, much is expected. And what is expected? That we would love others int he humility of Christ.

Having a Humble Opinion of Self (Book 1. Ch. 2)

EVERY man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars. He who knows himself well becomes mean in his own eyes and is not happy when praised by men.

If I knew all things in the world and had not charity, what would it profit me before God Who will judge me by my deeds?

Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise.

Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God.

The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you. If you think you know many things and understand them well enough, realize at the same time that there is much you do not know. Hence, do not affect wisdom, but admit your ignorance. Why prefer yourself to anyone else when many are more learned, more cultured than you?

If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel. To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself.

true knowledge

“Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God.” (Book 1, Chapter 1)

It’s not too difficult to learn a lot and have all the answers … especially in a church community filled with people who don’t ask many questions or connect too deeply.

For the spiritual life, true knowledge, makes a real and lasting impact in our thoughts and words and actions.