Kempis opens his chapter on monastic life (1,17), that we have been going through the last several days, with the words above. His words of wisdom, right off the top, have to do with the proper disposition of the religious in the monastery.
But, as we’ve said before, much of what Kempis writes applies to all persons. Isn’t it the case in marriage, the workplace, and among friends, that we find it is better to go along, defer, rather than attempt to impose our desires on others? Now, of course, this does not mean we are ever to follow in sin or shy away from fraternal correction when it is necessary to alert someone to the error of their ways in the moral life. But, in those matters that are indifferent, might not we wish to please others by happily following their lead even if it is not nearly as pleasant for us, or maybe downright annoying?
“Selfish ambition” leads to “disorder and every foul practice,” James tells us (Jas 3:13-18). How true. Kempis: renouncing our will in favor of God and others leads to peace. James: desiring our will about God’s and others’ leads to disorder. There is no order in peace, no contentment in disorder. Peace is a Godly thing (Is 9:6; by the way, don’t let Mt 10:34-36 fool you — the discord Jesus speaks of comes because of disobedience to the truth). Disorder a demonic thing (Mt 13:24-30). James comes around to the result of right living at the end of the reading, aligning perfectly with Kempis’s thought:
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.
Let’s give peace a chance.