The Only Thing You Have Is the Only Thing You Need
An Introduction and Guide to Jean Pierre de Caussade’s Abandonment to Divine Providence
Discover the Selfless Bliss of Rejoicing in the Existence of God
No secret knowledge necessary apart from the basics truths of the Christian faith. No challenging spiritual routines to master. Just change the way you look at the world and develop a simple habit of receiving the present moment as a gift from God.
For the Benefit of All Christians
Abandonment to Divine Providence is a 300-year-old teaching in the Catholic mystic tradition, but this spiritual path can be followed by any Christian. All quotations are in simple everyday English.
[This is not the full text of Abandonment to Divine Providence. This is my interpretation of what that book teaches, with select quotations from that book. For the full English translation, see below.]
Table of Contents
1. A DIFFERENT WAY OF LOOKING AT THE WORLD
Radical Focus on One Unchanging Truth
Seeing Through the Veil by Seeing the Veil for What It Is
The World as God’s Alphabet
The Holy Spirit Writes a Gospel
2. RECOGNIZING THE DIVINE WILL, ORDER, PROVIDENCE, AND ACTIVITY
The Will of God Gets Crucified in This World
The Order and Providence of God
The Activity of God
3. DUTY: THE LIBERATING POWER OF RESPONSIBILITY
Duty v. Quietism
Duty v. Fatalism
Duty v. Success
4. HOW TO DO IT: SOME PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS
Stop Looking for Better Moments
Not a Method but the Proper Attitude Toward Every Method
Acts That Become an Attitude
5. WHAT TO EXPECT: OVERCOMING DIFFICULTIES
Detachment: Choosing It and Having It Chosen for You
The Gift of Drudgery
The Appearance of Foolishness
Abandonment to Divine Providence
Jean Pierre de Caussade
New Translation of a Spiritual Classic
A life of deep spiritual maturity is not just for the chosen few. It is God’s will for you, and it is a project that he never stops working on.
- Put an end to the unspiritual striving of mind and emotions
- Be at peace with things you will never understand in this life
- Constantly live in God’s presence by faith
- Endure hardships with deep spiritual joy
- Learn how to truly and consistently “let go and let God”
This book has been helping believers do these things and more for centuries. This new translation presents this timeless spiritual wisdom in the language of today.
Walk This Way: Following Jesus Through the Sermon on the Mount
Build your life on the words of Jesus. Develop a kingdom lifestyle as Jesus described it in the Sermon on the Mount.
This commentary is designed to help you put the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount into practice immediately, step-by-step, with lasting effects on your thinking, on your behavior, and on the way you look at the world. It is by obeying the teachings of Jesus that we come to understand them. And as obedience grows, understanding increases.
This commentary is broken into short sections, each one based on a principle derived from a passage of the Sermon. Also included are insights from Augustine, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and others.
Read the Preface
This is a section-by-section commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, aimed at helping you to live the kind of life it describes. The primary focus is not on intellectual understanding, but on obedience. Only by obeying the words of Jesus will we begin to understand them. As obedience grows, understanding increases.
Each chapter of this book gives a principle derived from the Sermon on the Mount. These principles relate to ways of thinking, ways of acting, and ways of looking at the world. They describe the lifestyle of a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.
A life lived in submission to the King of heaven is rich and rewarding. Ultimately, it is the only kind of life worth living. But it is not easy. I myself have not mastered any of these principles. I still struggle with many of them. But I can testify to this: when followed, they work. They help me follow Jesus and obey His words.
You will probably not agree with every interpretation I give to every verse. You will almost certainly find something to disagree with or question. But I hope you will find that the lessons drawn from each passage are faithful to the teaching of the Bible, regardless of how I interpret certain words or phrases. In fact, I think I have steered clear of the usual controversies that arise when Christians discuss the Sermon on the Mount.
As you go through these principles, you will find some overlap and repetition. This is unavoidable, as the Sermon on the Mount itself repeats certain themes from different angles. I can only hope that you will encounter just the right amount of repetition: helpful in reinforcing certain ideas, but not redundant.
Let me point out a few style decisions I have made in this book. I capitalize pronouns referring to God, whether Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. I put Bible quotations in italics to set them apart from the rest of the text (all quotations are New King James Version). And I capitalize “the Sermon on the Mount,” but not when referring to it as “the sermon,” or “a sermon.”
Read some excerpts
Greed is not simply a matter of wanting too much. It is also about who you want it for. Simply asking God for less might not protect you from the sin of greed. You might want only a little—just enough bread for the day—yet if you only want it for yourself, then you are still being greedy. Do not ask for less. Ask on behalf of more. See your prosperity as part of God’s provision for all of His people.
God intends for the world around us to teach us. This happens best when we are paying attention. And as this happens, our world should always be expanding. We should always be noticing more and more of what surrounds us. This will keep us learning. It will also keep us in a state of wonder.
When you stop looking around, your world becomes small. This gives opportunity to worry and anxiety. A small world is made up of the solutions you already know about, the things that have worked for you in the past. In such a small world, you don’t see an answer to your present problems. Your problems are new, but your solutions are old. As a result, you worry.
If you love with integrity, you will not fear failure. Let this be your goal. Aim for a fearless performance rather than a flawless one.
In general, we form opinions of others much more often, and more quickly, than necessary. It is our initial instinct. But it doesn’t have to be. It can be replaced by the instinct of mercy. Think mercy towards others before you even have time to form an opinion of them. Let mercy be your first instinct. You will find that, in most cases, it is all the opinion you need.
Jesus didn’t say, “You don’t have to worry.” He said, “Don’t worry.” This is not one of the perks of following Jesus. It is a command to be obeyed. And it is one we don’t always take seriously enough.
Here is the evidence of our disobedience: When we experience worry and anxiety about material things, we seek comfort and assurance. What we should seek is forgiveness. We should repent of our worry. We should recognize it for the disobedience that it is, and drop it immediately.
This is the best remedy, because it aligns us with the commands of Jesus. Repentance is the quickest way out of worry.
Our version of manna is a spiritual revelation of Jesus Christ, the true and lasting nourishment. There is nothing as satisfying to the soul as a fresh apprehension on Christ’s grace and glory.
But sometimes we want a revelation that doesn’t require anything of us. This is the wrong approach. True knowledge of Jesus is knowledge acted upon.
Consider Jesus Himself. When He walk this earth, He had a revelation of the Father like none other. But what sustained Him? Acting upon that revelation. He told His disciples, in John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”
The ultimate cruelty of the law was not that it demanded so much, but that it expected so little. “Don’t get divorced,” it said, “but if you do get divorced, write a certificate.”
The law expected failure and was not disappointed.
Jesus said, “Don’t get divorced.” Period.
In that “period” there is an expectation. And in that expectation, there is grace. Listen for that expectation. Jesus does not tell us what to do just to make us give up in despair. His commands are empowering. He is demanding, but there is always grace in His demands. Listen to Him until you find it.
Keeping Christ’s commandments is a way of getting to know Him. This is the subject of the Sermon on the Mount. The kingdom of heaven is about getting to know the King of heaven. His commandments always reflect something of His character. If we love Him, we will love them. If we try to avoid His commandments, or choose to ignore them, it is as if we are saying. “I love Jesus, I just don’t like His personality.”
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