Book Recommendation from a Pastor
“Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers” by Dane Ortlund
Recommendation by Pastor Francis Chow
It was the book’s subtitle and its language of “sinners” and “sufferers” that first caught my attention for how this might be a helpful and relevant resources, especially for ministry at Lighthouse. Ortlund’s book was exactly that—not just for ministry to others, but for my own heart as well. Pastor Kim has often encouraged us to “fuel our faith” with truth about God. How can we expect to trust a God who we don’t really know? There’s a world of difference between knowing facts, for example, about your spouse versus knowing your spouse’s heart in relationship (an illustration that Ortlund apparently stole from Pastor Kim in the book).
Ortlund’s goal is to show us “the heart of Christ. Who is he? Who is he really? What is most natural to him? What ignites within him most immediately as he moves towards sinners and sufferers? What flows out most freely, most instinctively, Who is he?” (pg. 1). He does that by meditating in each chapter on a passage of Scripture or some teaching from the Puritans on what is said about Christ’s heart for us. (Discovering some of the quotes and works from Puritans like Goodwin, Sibbes, and Bunyan might be worth the price of the book alone!) The title, “Gentle and Lowly,” comes from Matthew 11:29, which Ortlund points out is the only place in the gospel accounts that Jesus tells us about his own heart.
One of the things that I appreciated most about this book was Ortlund’s ability to move beyond just “doctrine” to what that teaches us about the heart of Christ. For example, I am aware of biblical truths such as the fact that Jesus is our intercessor and advocate or that we as believers can call Him friend. But the book skillfully presents those ideas in a way that shows us Jesus’ heart and makes us run back to Him. Ortlund understands that it’s our natural sinful desire to believe otherwise (chapter 20 is titled “Our Law-ish Hearts, His Lavish Heart”), and so it’s especially necessary to refresh our understanding of Jesus’ heart for us from Scripture. On top of that, Ortlund is a gifted writer, as I found myself highlighting and underlining quotes that I’m sure I’ll return to later on.
Read this book! I’m confident that it will warm your love for Christ, whois gentle and lowly in heart. Here are some quotes for now:
- “Every human friend has a limit. If we offend enough, if a relationship gets damaged enough, if we betray enough times, we are cast out. The walls go up. With Christ, our sins and weaknesses are the very resume items that qualify us to approach him. Nothing but coming to him is required—first at conversion and a thousand times thereafter until we are with him upon death.” (pg. 64)
- “For those united to him, the heart of Jesus is not a rental; it is your new permanent residence. You are not a tenant; you are a child. His heart is not a ticking time bomb; his heart is the green pastures and still waters of endless reassurances of his presence and comfort, whatever our present spiritual accomplishments. It is who he is.” (pg. 66)
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Tim Challies is hosting a study of Galatians along with Tom Schreiner that began on May 11th. Check out all the details in the Facebook group.