On the Humble Acknowledgment of Our Own Defects

Thomas_von_Kempen_JSAfter decades of having ignored it on my bookshelf, I’ve finally taken Thomas a Kempis’ enduring The Imitation of Christ (completed 1427) down and started through its pages. It has been a refreshing wonder in its directness on the topics of growing meaningfully in Christ as well as each section’s conciseness, each one easily readable in five minutes or less.

One of the best bits so far is in Book II, Admonitions Leading to the Inner Life, section 2. It is entitled “Of the Humble Acknowledgment of Our Own Defects”. This is a topic I naturally tend to avoid, it being easier and more comforting to agree that one can’t acknowledge what’s simply not there. But that does not tend to improve anyone’s inner life, nor exterior life. So, in I waded.

What it provides is very good so I wanted to share it in full with you.

Do not regard much who is with you or who is against you, but let this be your greatest study: that God may be with you in everything that you do. Have a good conscience, and He will defend you well, and no evil will hinder or grieve the man God will help and defend. If you can be quiet and suffer for a while, you will, without doubt, see the help of God come in your need. He knows the time and the place to deliver you, and therefore you must resign yourself wholly to Him. It is God’s concern to help and to deliver from all confusion.

Nevertheless, it is often very profitable to us for the surer protection of humility that other men know our faults and rebuke us for them. When a man humbles himself for his offenses he easily pleases others, and reconciles himself to them whom he offended. Almighty God defends and comforts the humble man; He inclines Himself to the humble and sends him great plenty of His grace. God also shows His secrets to the humble man and lovingly draws him to Himself and after oppression, He lifts him up to glory. When the humble man has suffered confusion and rebuke, he is in good  peace, for he trust God and not the world.

Moreover, if you will come to the height of perfection, do not think that you have advanced in virtue until you can feel humbly in your heart that you have less humility and less virtue than anyone else.

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