Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ

I have the privilege of being a pastor that gets to regularly share the beauty of Jesus and the great news of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Yet, I often struggle to believe that God loves me. I don’t think many people would tell you that from hearing me preach, from all the time I spend discipling people, and all the times I pray with others. But it’s the truth. In 2016 I read a book called The Heart of Christ by Thomas Goodwin. This book opened up my heart and eyes to Christ’s present thoughts and feeling towards me and his people. I have used the book numerous times with others, but most people give up before the end of the first chapter due to the somewhat difficult writing style.

In 2018, I read a book on Jonathan Edwards in the Christian Life series published by Crossway. Dane Ortlund presented the glorious doctrines Edwards held in a way that drew me in. The chapter on Gentleness was particularly compelling and comforting. When I found out that Ortlund was releasing a book titled Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, I knew he would be making much of the Heart of Christ from the Scriptures, while also infusing a ton of Goodwin. I pre-ordered the book in December and it finally came last week. 

It is one of those books that you want to meditate on each chapter because it is such incredible and comforting news. But, you also want to get to the next chapter so you can continue being refreshed by the exhilarating fountain of gospel truth. I ended up reading the book in about a week and am rereading it now. I typically don’t post book reviews like this apart from my year-end review. However, this book exposes the heart of so many people I shepherd, and reveals to them such beautiful truths about the heart of Christ that if we would believe them, I believe we would be a different type of people. I believe we would be a people of contentment, of joy, of love, and most of all, a people who know they are loved right now by Jesus.

All week, when I am discouraged or down, themes from the book keep popping up in my mind. I am telling myself things like, “Jesus is praying for me right now. He is my Advocate that stands with me in this. He loves me because that is who he is.” Hebrews 4-5, Matthew 11:28-30, Romand 5:6-10, and Ephesians 2 have stuck in my mind and heart. And I will be honest: My goal in writing this post is to get you to buy the book. I do not know the author personally, but wholly believe in what he has written. The book is clear, accessible, and rich. In fact, I bought the book for all the leaders in the church I pastor and cannot wait to get it into their hands. I think I underlined and outline about 90% of the book, but here are some of my favorite quotes. Enjoy!

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. Those of us who find ourselves thinking: ‘How could I mess up that bad—again?’ It is for that increasing suspicion that God’s patience with us is wearing thin. For those of us who know know God loves us but suspect we have deeply disappointed him. Who have told others of the love of Christ yet wonder if—as for us—he harbors mild resentment.” -pg. 13

He wants us to draw on his grace and mercy because it is who he is. He drew near to us in the incarnation so that his joy and ours could rise and fall together—his in giving mercy, ours in receiving it. Goodwin even goes on to argue that Christ gets more joy and comfort than we do when we come to him for help and mercy.” -pg. 37

The sins of those who belong to God open the floodgates of his heart of compassion for us. The dam breaks. It is not our loveliness that wins his love. It is our unloveliness.” -pg. 75

The answer is that intercession applies what the atonement accomplished. Christ’s present heavenly intercession on our behalf is a reflection of the fullness and victory and completeness of his earthly work, not a reflection of anything lacking in his earthly work. The atonement accomplished our salvation; intercession is the moment-by-moment application for that atoning work.” -pg. 79

Our prayer life stinks most of the time. But what if you heard Jesus praying aloud for you in the next room? Few things would calm us more deeply.” -pg. 84

To be allied with an advocate, one who came and sought me out rather than waiting for me to come to him, one who is righteous in all the ways I am not—this is calm and confidence before the Father.” -pg. 89

Why not build in to your life unhurried quiet, where, among other disciplines, you consider the radiance of who he actually is, what animates him, what his deepest delight is? Why not give your soul room to be reenchanted with Christ time and again?” -pg. 99

“Here is the promise of the gospel and the message of the whole Bible: In Jesus Christ, we are given a friend who will always enjoy rather than refuse our presence.” -pg. 115

A correct understanding of the triune God is not that of a Father whose central disposition is judgment and a Son whose central disposition is love. The heart of both is one and the same; this is, after all, one God, not two. Theirs is a heart of redeeming love, not compromising justice and wrath but beautifully satisfying justice and wrath.” -pg. 131

He isn’t like you. Even the most intense of human love is but the faintest echo of heaven’s cascading abundance. His heartful thoughts for you outstrip what you can conceive. He intends to restore you into the radiant resplendence for which you were created.” -pg. 160 

‘Whatsoever Christ is freed from, I am freed from it. It can no more hurt me than it can hurt him now in heaven. (Richard Sibbes, Works, 4:504)’ For God to de-resurrect you, to bring his rich mercy to an end, Jesus Christ himself would have to be sucked down out of heaven and put back in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. You’re that safe.” -pg. 178

It means that one day God is going to walk us through the wardrobe into Narnia, and we will stand there, paralyzed with joy, wonder, astonishment, and relief.” -pg. 209

Our most haunted pockets of failure and regret are where his heart is drawn most unswervingly.” -pg. 210

“The Christian life boils down to two steps:

  1. Go to Jesus.
  2. See #1.” -pg. 216

If this has stirred your soul to want to better know the heart of Christ, Gentle and Lowly is available at the Westminster bookstore for 50% off right now: Gentle and Lowly


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