Three Assaults on Your Interior Peace

Written By Thomas à Kempis

Inordinate Affections

WHENSOEVER a man desires any thing inordinately, he is presently disquieted within himself. The proud and covetous are never easy. The poor and humble of spirit live in much peace. The man that is not yet perfectly dead to himself, is soon tempted and overcome with small and trifling things. He that is weak in spirit, and in a manner yet carnal and inclined to sensible things, can hardly withdraw himself wholly from earthly desires. And therefore he is often sad, when he withdraws himself from them, and is easily moved to anger if anyone thwarts him. And if he has pursued his inclination, he is immediately tormented with the guilt of his conscience, because he has followed his passion, which helps him not at all toward the peace he sought for.

It is then by resisting our passions, that we are to find true peace of heart, and not by being slaves to them. There is no peace, therefore, in the heart of a carnal man, nor in a man that is addicted to outward things; but only in a fervent spiritual man.

Vain Hope and Pride

HE IS vain who puts his trust in men, or in creatures (Jer. 17:5; Ps. 114:24). Be not ashamed to serve others, and to appear poor in this world, for the love of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:5). Confide not in thyself; but place thy hope in God (Ps. 72:28). Do what is in thy power, and God will be with thy good will. Trust not in thine own knowledge, nor in the cunning of any man living; but rather in the grace of God, who helps the humble, and humbles those who presume on themselves.

Glory not in riches, if thou hast them, nor in friends, because they are powerful; but in God, who gives all things, and desires to give Himself above all things (1 Cor. 1:31). Boast not of the stature nor beauty of thy body, which is spoiled and disfigured by a little sickness. Do not take a pride in thine ability or talent, lest thou displease God, to whom appertaineth every natural good quality and talent which thou hast.

 Esteem not thyself better than others, lest, perhaps, thou be accounted worse in the sight of God, who knows what is in man. Be not proud of thine own works; for the judgments of God are different from the judgments of men; and often times, that displeaseth Him which pleaseth men. If thou hast anything of good, believe better things of others, that thou mayest preserve humility.

It will do thee no harm to esteem thyself the worst of all; but it will hurt thee very much to prefer thyself before anyone. Continual peace is with the humble; but in the heart of the proud is frequent envy and indignation.

This article is taken from a chapter in The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, which is available from TAN Books.

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Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471) was a German-Dutch author and theologian of the late Medieval period.  He is best remembered for his classic on the devotional life known as The Imitation of Christ, available from TAN Books.