On Having a Humble Opinion of Oneself
Knowledge is a natural desire in all people.But knowledge for its own sake is useless unless you fear God.An unlearned peasant,whose contentment is in the service of God,is far better than the learned and the clever,whose pride in their knowledge leads them to neglect their souls while fixing their attention on the stars.
True self knowledge makes you aware of your own worthlessness and you will take no pleasure in the praises of others.If your knowledge encompasses the universe and the love of God in not in you,what good will it do you in God’s sight?He will judge you according to your own actions.
An overweening desire for knowledge brings many distractions and much delusion.Many like to be considered learned and to be praised for their wisdom;how much knowledge there is which adds nothing to the good of the soul.To spend yourself on worldly pursuits which do nothing to further your eternal salvation is unwise.
It is useless to spend much time in talking;only a holy life and a good conscience will ease your mind and satisfy your soul,enabling you to face God with confidence.
Remember the more you know,the more severely you will be judged.So do not be proud of any skill or knowledge you may have,for such is an awesome responsibility.No matter how much you know,realize how much there is that you do not know.Do not be afraid to acknowledge your own ignorance.
Why have an exalted opinion of yourself when you know there are many,even in your own field,whose knowledge surpasses yours?If you want to learn anything worthwhile,seek rather to be unknown and to be thought as nothing.
Nothing is so beneficial as a true knowledge of ourselves,which produces a wholesome self contempt.Always think kindly of others,while holding yourself as nothing;this is true wisdom and leads to perfection.If you see another commit a grevious sin,or whose faults are flagrant,do not regard yourself as better,for you do not know what you would do if similarily tempted.You are in good disposition now,but you do not know how long you will persevere in it.Always keep in mind that all are frail,but none so frail as yourself.
~The Imitation of Christ~