Book of the Month: Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers
By Dane Ortlund, Review by Dar McCallum
I am so grateful for Dane Ortlund’s book, “Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers.” As someone who grew up in a somewhat legalistic church, coupled with a personality that leans toward performance, it was just what I needed to remind me that what is most natural to Jesus, what flows from Him freely and instinctively is a “heart for sinners and sufferers.” Christ’s heart is most fundamentally a tender, open, welcoming, understanding heart. Ortlund says, “Jesus rejoices to love his people even more than we rejoice to receive his love.”
Ortlund is riffing off the passage in Matthew 11:28-30, which says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He says “...Jesus is the most understanding person in the universe. The posture most natural to Him is not a pointed finger, but open arms.”
This speaks to my soul as it’s been a constant struggle to see God not as distant, demanding, and disapproving but as the One who is tender, open, and welcoming. We don’t need to pull ourselves together or clean ourselves up. As a matter of fact, it is our very burdens that qualify us to come to Jesus. As Ortlund says, “But for the penitent, His heart of gentle embrace is never outmatched by our sins and foibles and insecurities and doubts and anxieties and failures.” In fact, it is because of our sin that He came to us in the first place.
This book is deeply rooted in the Scriptures. I love that it talks about not only what Jesus DID for us but how he FEELS toward us. It is not duty on Jesus’ part. It is a deeply felt and active love.