By PAT HUTCHENS, A rework of Imitation of Messiah by Thomas A. Kempis—
There is in everyone a natural desire for knowledge, but what good is knowledge without the fear of God? A lowly peasant who serves God is better off than a brilliant, proud philosopher who studies the stars but doesn’t know the One who made them? The person who knows God and himself will realize his smallness in the universe. He will not put confidence in man – either his praises or his wisdom.
2. Give up an inordinate desire for knowledge, for it can deceive you and cause you to lose your focus in life. People who have great knowledge often desire to show it off to others. There are many things to learn that will do nothing whatsoever for you or your soul. It is foolishness to concentrate on things that do not promote the health of one’s soul. In fact, “the kingdom of God is not in words but in power” (I Corinthians 4:20). Human words don’t satisfy the soul, but a life lived by God’s words and for God’s Kingdom benefits the soul and body and a conscience that has been cleaned and purified by God gives confidence when approaching God.
3. Remember this: The more you know, the more you will be held accountable, so join knowledge to holy living. Do not be prideful about your skills or knowledge. Rather, seek to have a reverential awe and a grateful spirit about what God has given you. If you think that you know and understand much, remember there is a whole world of knowledge that you do not know. Do not be high-minded. Instead, humble yourself and admit to yourself and others that you know very little. Why are you in awe of those who have more education and knowledge than you? What is the root of the desire to be lifted up above others. There will always be others who know more than you do. Do you really want true learning and knowledge? Do you really want to benefit from what you know? Then love to be personally unknown and flee from worldly honors. Give all honor and glory to God alone. As the prophet Jeremiah said,
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories, glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I AM the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, says the LORD (Jeremiah 9:23, 24).
4. There is great personal profit in learning how to know and judge self in a humble, lowly way. Not to think of self in a prideful way, but to think well of others – that is great and perfect (complete) wisdom. Even if you see your neighbor sin openly and grievously, don’t think you are better than he is, but remember that except for God’s grace in your life, you would do the same – or worse. All of us are weak and frail. All of us are prone to wander away from God. As the song goes, I am “Prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love.” All of us are self-centered. All of us have the capacity for evil. Don’t look down on others or think that you cannot fall into sin – but humbly trust in God to keep you. Say this prayer: “I will look to the LORD, I will wait for the God of my Salvation; My God will hear me” (Micah 7:7).