Chapter 10: Guarding Against Unnecessary Speech
“We must watch and pray lest we spend our time in fruitless idleness”
Kempis strongly encourages us to put boundaries on our conversations and our social gatherings. He is full aware of the human tendency towards unhealthy behaviors in certain social situations. Often times we seek solace in the mob even if the mob mentality is vain, fruitless and violent. Kempis offers warnings about “hanging out” with those who do not share interest in “spiritual progress.” Without this shared interest, we can easily fall into moral regress and idleness.
However, it is worth comparing Kempis’ stern warning to “avoid the gatherings of men as much as you can” with the author of Hebrews exhortation to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” Both Kempis and the author of the Hebrews Epistle put their counsel in the context of Advent: “We must watch and pray lest we spend our time in fruitless idleness” and “Let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
During the season of Advent, we can experience fellowship as either an obstacle to our spiritual growth or as aid in helping us to prepare for the presence of God in our lives. The difference between communities that inhibit growth and communities that engender growth resides in the goals of the community. If the goals are not well articulated and understood, then regression and chaos can easily result. But if the goals are for “spiritual advancement” in Christ, then let us not give up meeting together. “Godly conversation about spiritual matters,” Kempis concludes, “very much helps spiritual advancement, especially when persons of like mind and heart are united in God.”