“Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” —1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV)
Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ has a strong claim to be the most-read book ever written aside from the Bible. What The Pilgrim’s Progress is to works written in English, The Imitation of Christ is to everything ever written.
So what’s so special about it? Why have countless individuals over the centuries since its publication treasured it and read it again and again?
Here are seven quotes to give you a taste for yourself of Thomas à Kempis’ classic on the Christian life. I highly recommend it—it’s one I enjoyed,was challenged by, and know that I will reread in the future.
1. Learning Must be Accompanied by Grace and Love
What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? …I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? (1)
2. Liberty and joy are incomplete without the fear of the Lord.
No liberty is true and no joy is genuine unless it is founded in the fear of the Lord and a good conscience (18).
3.Christ is the Only One who will never fail us.
He who clings to a creature will fall with its frailty, but he who gives himself to Jesus will ever be strengthened….Cling, therefore, to Jesus in life and death; trust yourself to the glory of Him who alone can help you when all others fail (34).
4. Following Christ entails suffering as well as consolation.
Jesus has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear his cross. he has many who desire consolation, but few who care for trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to take part in His fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few wish to suffer anything for Him (39).
5. No one (or no thing) is good except God alone.
He who considers anything great except the one, immense, eternal good will long be little and lie groveling on the earth. Whatever is not God is nothing and must be accounted as nothing (79).
6. The Disciple should glory in God alone.
Let Your name, not mine, be praised. Let Your work, not mine, be magnified, Let Your holy name be blessed, but let no human praise be given to me. You are my glory. You are the joy of my heart.
7. It is Grace alone that enables any goodness on our part.
What am I without grace, but dead wood, a useless branch, fit only to be cast away?
Let your grace, therefore, go before me and follow me, O Lord, and make me always intent upon good works, through Christ Jesus, Your Son.