Gentle and Lowly
We have different ways to warm ourselves up on cold winter days: a cup of hot chocolate, a favorite sweater, an extra blanket on the bed. But how do you warm up your heart? If your sense of God’s love has grown cold, what can you do?
A book that helped to warm my heart this winter is Dane Ortlund’s Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers.
Drawing on the writings of old Puritan authors and starting with the words of Christ in Matthew 11:29, Ortlund takes us to the heart of Jesus. His focus is not Christ’s teaching, his example, or even his atoning death, but his heart. In other words, Ortlund explores what the Bible says about the way Jesus truly feels about his people.
How does Christ feel about you? Is he disappointed with your progress? Is he frustrated by your shortcomings? Does he forgive your sins begrudgingly because he is obligated to do so as your Savior? The answers this book gives to these questions will warm your heart and blow your mind, especially if you are feeling distant from God. Ortlund writes, “This book is written for the discouraged, the frustrated, the weary, the disenchanted, the cynical, the empty. Those running on fumes. Those whose Christian lives feel like constantly running up a descending escalator.”
Written in 23 short chapters, Gentle and Lowly is arranged perfectly for daily readings. The chapters were an ideal length for a quick follow-up to my morning Bible reading. They would also serve well as a mid-day break or a short devotional before bed.
Here are a few quotes from Gentle and Lowly to whet your appetite for the book:
“You might know that Christ died and rose again on your behalf to rinse you clean of all your sin; but do you know his deepest heart for you? Do you live with an awareness not only of his atoning work for your sinfulness but also of his longing heart amid your sinfulness?"
“His heart was gentle and lowly toward us when we were lost. Will his heart be anything different toward us now that we are found?”
“What elicits tenderness from Jesus is not the severity of the sin but whether the sinner comes to him.”
“Do you know what Jesus does with those who squander his mercy? He pours out more mercy. God is rich in mercy. That’s the whole point. Whether we have been sinned against or have sinned ourselves into misery, the Bible says God is not tightfisted with mercy but openhanded, not frugal but lavish, not poor but rich.”
“The Christian life boils down to two steps: 1. Go to Jesus. 2. See #1.”
“Lowly gentleness is not one way Jesus occasionally acts toward others. Gentleness is who he is. It is his heart.”
“The deeper into weakness and suffering and testing we go, the deeper Christ’s solidarity with us. As we go down into pain and anguish, we are descending ever deeper into Christ’s very heart, not away from it.”