The world sees and judges according to appearances; God sees what is in the heart. Thus, "God regards the greatness of the love that prompts a man, rather than the greatness of his achievement."
Thomas is particularly scathing with regard to those who seek to substitute knowledge or learning for true devotion: "A humble countryman who serves God is more pleasing to Him than a conceited intellectual who knows the course of the stars, but neglects his own soul." Holiness is more important than learning: "A humble knowledge of oneself is a surer road to God than a deep searching of the sciences."
... we should never deceive ourselves into believing that reading books about spirituality is an adequate substitute. As Thomas notes: "At the Day of Judgment we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done."
— Thomas à Kempis, spiritual master, in All Saints (1997) by Robert Ellsberg