I have taught the prophets from the beginning of the world, and I do not cease to speak to all men today. But many are hardened and deaf to My voice. Many listen more willingly to the world than to God and would rather follow the desires of the body than the good pleasure of God. The world promises passing rewards of little worth and is served with great eagerness. I promise eternal and rich rewards, yet the hearts of men are indifferent to them. Who is there who serves and obeys Me with as great devotion as he [who] serves the world and its rulers? “Be ashamed, O Sidon,” cries the sea. And, if you ask the reason, here’s why.
For a small reward, a man will hurry away on a long journey while, for eternal life, many will hardly take a single step. Men seek petty gain. They will quarrel shamefully over a single coin. For a mere trifle or vague promise, they will toil day and night. Oh, the shame of it! For an imperishable good, for a reward beyond all reckoning, for the highest honor and for glory without end, they are unwilling to endure a little toil. O unwilling and complaining servant, shame on you that worldly men are more ready for damnation than you are for salvation, for they are more wholehearted in vanity than you in the truth. They are often deceived in their hopes, but no one is ever deceived in My promises and I never send away empty anyone who trusts in Me. What I promise, I give. What I have said, I will perform, provided you remain faithful in My Lord to the end. I am the reward of all good men and the mighty vindicator of all the faithful.
Write My words in your heart and meditate on them earnestly. They will aid you in temptation. Whatever you do not understand when you read, you shall know in the day of My coming. I visit My chosen in two ways: with trial and with consolation. Day by day, I teach them two lessons, one in which I correct their faults and the other in which I encourage them to progress in virtue. “He who hears My words and despises them has One who will judge him on the last day” (John 12.48).
From: The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis; translated from the Latin by Leo Sherley-Price (Baltimore: Penguin Books, Inc., 1952), 3.3 (pp. 93-94)