Thomas á Kempis on Knowledge Without Grace

If you knew the entire Bible inside out and all the maxims of the philosophers, what good would it do to you if you were, at the same time, without God’s love and grace? Vanity of vanities! All is vanity, except our loving God and serving only Him. This is the highest wisdom: to despise the world and seek the kingdom of heaven. . . Everyone has a natural desires for knowledge, but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Surely a humble peasant who serves God is better than the profound astronomer who knows how to chart the heavens’ stars but lacks all knowledge of himself.

If I truly knew myself I would look upon myself as insignificant and would not find joy in hearing others praise me. If I knew everything in the world and were still without charity, what advantage would I have in the eyes of God who is to judge me according to my deeds? Curb all undue desire for knowledge, for in it you will find many distractions and much delusion. Those who are learned strive to give the appearance of being wise and desire to be recognized as such; but there is much knowledge that is of little or no benefit to the soul.

Thomas á Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Vintage Spiritual Classics: 1998), pp. 3-4

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