Read the The Imitation of Christ
Thomas à Kempis The Imitation of Christ
Author of The Imitation of Christ; Thomas was an Augustinian Monk, and a Disciple of Gerard Groot. Thomas was a member of Groot's Brethren of the Common Life, and a proponent of Groot's teachings, called The Devotio Moderna, of which The Imitation of Christ is the best example.
"The religious who meditates devoutly on the most holy life and passion of our Lord will find all that he needs to make his life worthwhile. In fact, he has no need to go beyond Jesus, for he will discover nothing better. If Jesus Crucified would come into our hearts, how quickly and perfectly we would be instructed in the spiritual life." (Book I Chapter 25)
Only the Bible has been more influential as a source of Christian devotional reading than The Imitation of Christ. This meditation on the spiritual life...written by the Augustinian monk Thomas à Kempis between 1420 and 1427, contains clear instructions for renouncing worldly vanities and locating eternal truths. No book has more explicitly and movingly described the Christian ideal, "My son, to the degree that you can leave yourself behind, to that degree will you be able to enter into me."
"Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness," says the Lord. These are Christ's own words by which He exhorts us to imitate His life and His ways, if we truly desire to be enlightened and free of all blindness of heart. Let it then be our main concern to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ... (Book I Chapter 1)
The Imitation of Christ is indeed a unique book. It has been printed into more copies than any book except the Bible (with the possible exception of John Bunyan's classic work: Pilgrim's Progress). Written by a monk, it is loved equally by both Roman Catholics and Protestants. Ignatius Loyola read a chapter from it every day. Pope John Paul I was reading it just before he died. Yet at the same time, no less an Evangelical Protestant than Billy Graham, has said that it is his favorite book after the Bible.
Thomas à Kempis in this book talks almost solely about Jesus, and the importance of putting Christ first in the spiritual life of the believer. How to grow in Christ is the theme of this book. It is not an intellectual study, it is a book of the heart.
The Imitation of Christ is my favorite book outside of the Bible, and I highly recommend it as an aid to any Christian's spiritual growth.
Thomas à Kempis Quotes
He has great tranquillity of heart who cares neither for the praises nor the fault-finding of men. He will easily be content and pacified, whose conscience is pure. You are not holier if you are praised, nor the more worthless if you are found fault with. What you are, that you are; neither by word can you be made greater than what you are in the sight of God.
He who loveth God with all his heart feareth not death, nor punishment, nor judgment, nor hell, because perfect love giveth sure access to God. But he who still delighteth in sin, no marvel if he is afraid of death and judgment.
Do not be influenced by the importance of the writer, and whether his learning be great or small, but let the love of pure truth draw you to read. Do not inquire, Who said this? but pay attention to what is said.
If thou art willing to suffer no adversity, how wilt thou be the friend of Christ?
Let this be thy whole endeavor, this thy prayer, this thy desire, that thou mayest be stripped of all selfishness, and with entire simplicity follow Jesus only.
First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.
Man sees your actions, but God your motives.
Love ... alone makes heavy burdens light and bears in equal balance things pleasing and displeasing. Love bears a heavy burden and does not feel it, and love makes bitter things tasteful and sweet.
Faith is required of thee, and a sincere life, not loftiness of intellect, nor deepness in the mysteries of God.
One day when a certain man who wavered often and anxiously between hope and fear was struck with sadness, he knelt in humble prayer before the altar of a church. While meditating on these things, he said: "Oh if I but knew whether I should persevere to the end!" Instantly he heard within the divine answer: "If you knew this, what would you do? Do now what you would do then and you will be quite secure." Immediately consoled and comforted, he resigned himself to the divine will and the anxious uncertainty ceased. His curiosity no longer sought to know what the future held for him, and he tried instead to find the perfect, the acceptable will of God in the beginning and end of every good work.
Those things that one cannot improve in himself or in others, he ought to endure patiently, until God arranges things otherwise. Nevertheless when you have such impediments, you ought to pray that God would help you, and that you may bear them kindly. Endeavor to be patient in bearing with the defects of others, whatever they are; for you also have many failings which must be borne by others. If you cannot make yourself be as you would like to be, how can you expect to have another person be to your liking in every way? We desire to have others perfect, and yet we do not correct our own faults. We would allow others to be severely corrected, and will not be corrected ourselves. We will have others kept under by strict laws, but in no case do we want to be restrained. And so it appears that we seldom weigh our neighbor in the same balance with ourselves.