Imitation Of Christ

Today we are starting a series on the writings of Thomas Kempis.

Loving Jesus Above All Things

Kempis writes:

Blessed are those who understand (Psalm 119:1-2) what it is to love Jesus and to despise themselves for their sake.

What is it to love Jesus?

Is this need to despise oneself simply another way to say we must deny ourselves or is it much more?


8 thoughts on “Imitation Of Christ

  • July 31, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Jesus himself addresses the issue of loving Him in the gospels. Matthew 22:37-40 says to love God with our entire being. Combine this with John 14:21 where love is naturally reflected by us when we OBEY God– this is a good summary of Loving God.

    There appears to be a difference in denying ourselves which we are commanded to do and despising ourselves. I’m not aware of any command in scripture to despise ourselves. Since we are God’s creation and created in His image, this seems a little odd. We of course, can despise our disobedience and sinful patterns, but this is different than despising “ourselves”


  • August 3, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Well, I think it goes into the same vein as Jesus saying we must hate our family which is obviously on surface not a Godly thing to do.

    What it boils down to is that we must “seek him with all [our] heart.”

    It’s the contrast that is desired. Our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd priority in all things and at all times must be God and his Kingdom. If it’s a choice between promoting or protecting ourselves or our families or standing up for God there shouldn’t be a hint of hesitation, they must be “despised.”

    And yet if we are truly walking with God how can we fail to treat our family with the utmost respect and care as those who were given us by the Father to care for.

    And as for ourselves and our bodies, Willard changed my mind on that one. : ) If our bodies are our source of independent power, neglecting them is very poor stewardship because they become less useful to God if we don’t maintain them.

  • August 12, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    So if someone with cancer won’t admit that they are sick, will they ever seek treatment?

    The same holds true here. If you do not look at yourself as completely broken and totally despicable (meaning your sinful nature) then how will you ever stop yourself from doing sinful things?

    You must absolutely hate these vices, addictions, etc (things outside the will of God).

    When such hatred is developed, then and only then can one truly start to turn from their wicked ways and seek His face. Jesus is a jealous God and will NOT accept something that belongs to another(Meaning your heart).

    Kempis is saying that you must love Jesus above all else. “Love all others for the sake of Jesus, but love Jesus for His own sake”.

    We are all terminal, but the Good News is, is there is a cure.


  • August 15, 2009 at 6:54 am

    To love Jesus, for me, is a desire to become more like him in my everyday life. To live a life with his continual presence and guidance. I think to despise oneself goes to a deeper level than denying oneself. I look at denying oneself as more sacrificial in nature. An example might be giving up something I may want to do in order to serve another. Or, possibly just giving up some of my time for another person, or purpose. I think to despise oneself goes to a level that I would equate with hate. I beleive it has more to do with those things in my heart which would lead me away from Christ. Some of those things might be anger, hate, love of self, greed, etc. In this world, these are things we are all susceptable to. No matter what, when this journey ends we have Jesus’s promise of a pure and eternal life with him. A W Tozer, in his The Knowledge of the Holy, makes a great point in this paragraph: ” Because God’s nature is infinite, everything that flows out of it is infinite also. We poor human creatures are constantly being frustrated by limitations imposed upon us from without and within. The days of the years of our lives are few, and swifter than a weaver’s shuttle. Life is a short and fevered rehearsal for a concert we cannot stay to give. Just when we appear to have attained some proficiency we are forced to lay our instruments down. There is simply not time enough to think, to become, to perform what the constitution of our natures indicates we are capable of.
    How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none. Eternal years lie in His heart. For Him time does not pass, it remains; and those who are in Christ share with Him all the riches of limitless time and endless years. God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which He must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves. For those out of Christ, time is a devouring beast; before the sons of the new creation time crouches and purrs and licks their hands. The foe of the old human race becomes the friend of the new, and the stars in their courses fight for the man God delights to honor. This we may learn from the divine infinitude.

    But there is more. God’s gifts in nature have their limitations. They are finite because they have been created, but the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus is as limitless as God. The Christian man possesses God’s own life and shares His infinitude with Him. In God there is life enough for all and time enough to enjoy it. Whatever is possessed of natural life runs through its cycle from birth to death and ceases to be, but the life of God returns upon itself and ceases never. And this is life eternal: to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.”

  • August 15, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Could Tozer be a modern Kempis. Great stuff Craig!
    Love how this ends with the reality of our lives right now- knowing eternal life by knowing the Trinity.

    John 17:3 is the only place in Scripture where eternal life is defined.


  • August 17, 2009 at 7:04 am

    It looks like John 17:3 takes us from eternal life right back to loving Jesus and the need to despise ourselves, if “knowing” is interpreted as “loving” God and Son. This indicates to me that Tozer is most likely a modern Kempis.

  • August 18, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely valleys of soul poverty and denial of all things. The blessed ones who possess the Kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing. These are the “poor in spirit.” They have reached an inward state paralleling the outward circumstances of the common beggar in the streets of Jerusalem. That is what the word “poor” as Christ used it actually means. These blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. They have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting but by surrendering. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. “Theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”

    A.W. Tozer The Pursuit of God

    More evidence of a strong similarity in the focus of Tozer and Kempis.


  • September 1, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Take up your cross and follow Me.

    Kempis goes on and delves a little bit deeper into the meaning of “Take up your cross and follow me. This quote I think falls in line with what you are saying.

    “Behold, in the cross is everything, and upon your dying on the cross everything depends. There is no other way to life and to true inward peace than the way of the holy cross and daily mortification. Go where you will, seek what you will, you will not find a higher way, nor a less exalted but safer way, than the way of the holy cross. Arrange and order everything to suit your will and judgment, and still you will find that some suffering must always be borne, willingly or unwillingly, and thus you will always find the cross.

    Either you will experience bodily pain or you will undergo tribulation of spirit in your soul. At times you will be forsaken by God, at times troubled by those about you and, what is worse, you will often grow weary of yourself. You cannot escape, you cannot be relieved by any remedy or comfort but must bear with it as long as God wills. For He wishes you to learn to bear trial without consolation, to submit yourself wholly to Him that you may become more humble through suffering. No one understands the passion of Christ so thoroughly or heartily as the man whose lot it is to suffer the like himself.”

    ~Thomas a Kempis.

    Those who die for Jesus daily will live with Jesus eternally. There is no half way. It is an all or nothing deal.

    Kempis goes on further to say that “EVERYTHING depends on you dying on the cross”.

    “The more the flesh is distressed by affliction, so much the more is the spirit strengthened by inward grace”.

    So at the end of your days what do you want to hear Jesus say to you?

    “Welcome Home” or “Depart from Me”

    Choose wisely.


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