Imitation of Christ: Book 1, Chapter 25 (continued)
But if thou observest any thing worthy of reproof, beware thou do not the same. And if at any time thou hast done it, labor quickly to amend thyself. As thine eye observeth others, so art thou by others noted again.
How sweet and pleasant a thing it is, to see brethren fervent and devout, obedient and well-disciplined! How sad and grievous a thing it is, to see them walk disorderly, not applying themselves to that for which they are called! How hurtful a thing it is, when they neglect the purpose of their calling and busy themselves in things not committed to their care!
Be mindful of the purpose thou hast embraced, and set always before thee the image of the Crucified. Good cause thou hast to be ashamed in looking upon the life of Jesus Christ, seeing thou hast not as yet endeavored to conform thyself more unto Him, though thou hast been a long time in the way of God. A religious person that exercizeth himself seriously and devoutly in the most holy life and passion of our Lord, shall there abundantly find whatsoever is profitable and necessary for him, neither shall he need to seek any better thing, besides Jesus. O if Jesus crucified would come into our hearts, how quickly and fully should we be. A man fervent and diligent is prepared for all things.It is harder toil to resist vices and passions, than to sweat in bodily labors. He that avoideth not small faults, by little and little falleth into greater. Thou wilt always rejoice in the evening, if thou spend the day profitably. Be watchful over thyself, stir up thyself, warn thyself, and whatsoever becometh of others, neglect not thyself. The more violent thou uses against thyself, the more shalt thou progress. Amen.
The final line is not meant to suggest that we should do violence against ourselves. Quite the opposite - we should love our selves so much, in light of our being made in the image and likeness of God, that we strive to grow deeper in our self-knowledge and awareness with every passing moment. So that we might strive to be sufficiently equipped, with ever increasing understanding of the ways of the Lord, to continually examine our lives and consciences in pursuit of conformity to His will. The world tells us to be happy and satisfied with who we are. It tells us that we should be proud, stand our ground and let no one try to change us. But how can we grow if plant our feet firmly upon ground which the warmth of the sun never touches? We are comfortably rooted in the cool shade for a time, but eventually we wither and die from lack of sunlight - the nourishment we need to continue growing more beautiful and higher toward heaven.
Let us never be satisfied. With every moment let us grow in understanding of how completely undeserving we would be of God's Mercy, except that He Himself invites us to eternal satisfaction through acceptance of this Mercy. He did not come to call the righteous.
He came for us.