Book Review

Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers

by Dane Ortlund
Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers

I love this book for its delicate approach to the heart of Jesus, much like Christ’s own tenderness when interacting with the lowly and cast off in society. In Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund draws from Scripture and the saints before him—many of them Puritans—to craft a careful picture of Jesus Christ as the One to turn to when mired in sin and suffering hardships.

Gentle and Lowly is not about what Christ has done, but who He is. Ortlund begins his book with a memory of his father revealing to him that, of the 89 chapters of Gospel writing, there’s only one place where Jesus tells us about His own heart:

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.

Matthew 11:28–30, ESV

In 23 rather short chapters, this book makes the case that Jesus loves us deeply, not in spite of our sin, but because of it. Ortlund invokes Romans 5:20 to remind the reader that God’s grace overwhelms our sin. When we sin, the very heart of Christ is drawn out to us. Indeed, the compassion of Christ is the attribute most noted by His followers.

Not only are holiness and sinfulness mutually exclusive, but Christ, being perfectly holy, knows and feels the horror and weight of sin more deeply than any of us sinful ones could—just as the purer a man’s heart, the more horrified he is at the thought of his neighbors being robbed or abused.

Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly

Though the crowds call him the friend of sinners as an indictment, the label is one of unspeakable comfort for those who know themselves to be sinners. That Jesus is friend to sinners is only contemptible to those who feel themselves not to be in that category.

Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly

I thoroughly enjoyed this book; I even shared it with my wife and brother-in-law, and we gave a copy to my dad. This is a great book to re-read every year for a warm reminder of God’s love for us, even when it’s difficult to love ourselves. It’s all there in the Scriptures, but Dane Ortlund does an excellent job of pulling out these pearls of truth from the depths of Gospel narratives and New Testament theological treatises.

Gentle and Lowly addresses what I think is a common misconception: that God is impatient with our sinful hearts and that Christ looks disapprovingly on us because of it. Rest assured, Christian, that the heart of Christ is drawn out to you more because of your sin, and He sides with you against your sin. What a wonderful God we serve!