I strongly recommend Thomas a Kempis’ book “Imitation of Christ” as a devotional book and I feel it should be in every serious Christian’s library. The only caution I have is to keep in mind that this book was written by a Roman Catholic monk and he refers to purgatory in some chapters. Also, in the fourth book concerning communion, you will find references to the Papal teaching of transubstantiation.
Other than that, you need to have your holiness glasses on when you read – as in a number of places he refers to the Christian sinning as normal and you should read that as faults – not sins – for “whosoever is born of God sinneth not” (1Joh 3:8). In numerous books I have read, I have found it common for even deeply spiritual people to refer to the unlawful desires of their flesh and their many faults as sin. Regarding such, I like the definition that John Wesley uses.
The following is a quote from each chapter so you that you get an idea of the quality of writing. This is not a book to be read and then laid down, but a book that you can read and read again and you should spend time mediating on the principles laid out in the book.
I hope you can get as much good out of this book as I have!
Quotes From Book Three Part 2/2 — Internal Consolation:
31. To Find the Creator, Forsake All Creatures — There is great difference between the wisdom of an enlightened and devout man and the learning of a well-read and brilliant scholar, for the knowledge which flows down from divine sources is much nobler than that laboriously acquired by human industry.
32. Self-Denial and the Renunciation of Evil Appetites — My child, you can never be perfectly free unless you completely renounce self, for all who seek their own interest and who love themselves are bound in fetters.
33. Restlessness of Soul — Directing Our Final Intention Toward God — Indeed, it is rare to find one who is entirely free from all taint of self-seeking.
34. God is Sweet Above All Things and in All Things to Those Who Love Him — But they who follow You by disdaining worldly things and mortifying the flesh are known to be truly wise, for they are transported from vanity to truth, from flesh to spirit.
35. There is No Security from Temptation in This Life — For love of God you should undergo all things cheerfully, all labors and sorrows, temptations and trials, anxieties, weaknesses, necessities, injuries, slanders, rebukes, humiliations, confusions, corrections, and contempt.
36. The Vain Judgments of Men — Who are you, then, that you should be afraid of mortal man? Today he is here, tomorrow he is not seen. Fear God and you will not be afraid of the terrors of men.
37. Pure and Entire Resignation of Self to Obtain Freedom of Heart — I have said to you very often, and now I say again: forsake yourself, renounce yourself and you shall enjoy great inward peace. Give all for all. Ask nothing, demand nothing in return.
38. The Right Ordering of External Affairs; Recourse to God in Dangers — My child, you must strive diligently to be inwardly free, to have mastery over yourself everywhere, in every external act and occupation, that all things be subject to you and not you to them, that you be the master and director of your actions, not a slave or a mere hired servant.
39. A Man Should Not be Unduly Solicitous about his Affairs — A man’s true progress consists in denying himself, and the man who has denied himself is truly free and secure.
40. Man Has No Good in Himself and Can Glory in Nothing — Lord, I am nothing, of myself I have nothing that is good; I am lacking in all things, and I am ever tending toward nothing. And unless I have Your help and am inwardly strengthened by You, I become quite lukewarm and lax.
41. Contempt for All Earthly Honor — Lift up your heart to Me in heaven and the contempt of men on earth will not grieve you.
42. Peace is not to be Placed in Men — He who attributes any good to himself hinders God’s grace from coming into his heart, for the grace of the Holy Spirit seeks always the humble heart.
43. Beware Vain and Worldly Knowledge — I am He who teaches man knowledge, and to the little ones I give a clearer understanding than can be taught by man. He to whom I speak will soon be wise and his soul will profit.
44. Do Not be Concerned About Outward Things — It is more profitable to turn away from things which displease you and to leave to every man his own opinion than to take part in quarrelsome talk.
45. All Men Are Not To Be Believed, For It is Easy To Err in Speech — Oh, how good and how peaceful it is to be silent about others, not to believe without discrimination all that is said, not easily to report it further, to reveal oneself to few, always to seek You as the discerner of hearts, and not to be blown away by every wind of words, but to wish that all things, within and beyond us, be done according to the pleasure of Thy will.
46. Trust in God Against Slander — Behold, if every malicious thing that could possibly be invented were uttered against you, what harm could it do if you ignored it all and gave it no more thought than you would a blade of grass?
47. Every Trial Must Be Borne for the Sake of Eternal Life — Write, read, sing, mourn, keep silence, pray, and bear hardships like a man. Eternal life is worth all these and greater battles.
48. The Day of Eternity and the Distresses of this Life — If I love heaven, I think willingly of heavenly things. If I love the world, I rejoice at the happiness of the world and grieve at its troubles. If I love the flesh, I often imagine things that are carnal. If I love the spirit, I delight in thinking of spiritual matters. For whatever I love, I am willing to speak and hear about.
49. The Desire of Eternal Life; The Great Rewards Promised to Those Who Struggle — Ask, therefore, not for what is pleasing and convenient to yourself, but for what is acceptable to Me and is for My honor, because if you judge rightly, you ought to prefer and follow My will, not your own desire or whatever things you wish.
50. How a Desolate Person Ought to Commit Himself into the Hands of God — Let him be a little slighted, let him be humbled, let him fail in the sight of men, let him be afflicted with sufferings and pains, so that he may rise again with You in the dawn of the new light and be glorified in heaven.
51. When We Cannot Attain to the Highest, We Must Practice the Humble Works — As long as you wear a mortal body you will suffer weariness and heaviness of heart. You ought, therefore, to bewail in the flesh the burden of the flesh which keeps you from giving yourself unceasingly to spiritual exercises and divine contemplation.
52. A Man Ought Not to Consider Himself Worthy of Consolation, But Rather Deserving of Chastisement — I am not worthy of Your consolation or of any spiritual visitation. Therefore, You treat me justly when You leave me poor and desolate. For though I could shed a sea of tears, yet I should not be worthy of Your consolation.