I'm a Dane Ortlund fan. Or perhaps better said, I'm a fan of the Lord that Dane has come to enjoy and love. I recently finished reading his masterpiece, Gentle and Lowly, about the heart of Jesus for people just like us: sinners and sufferers.
You may also know that I'm something of an addict (or hoarder) when it comes to meaningful quotations. When someone puts truth into a well-packaged sentence, I pick it up and put it in my treasury box. Below are my favorite 26 quotations from Ortlund's book.
(By the way, to catch a glimmer of Ortlund's heart ... the ESV Psalter – which I highly recommend – records all 150 Psalms with a brief devotional following each, written by an anonymous author. I had to dig through many channels to find the writer of these gospel-rich reflections on the Psalms. They were penned by Dane Ortlund. You will never find his name in the Psalter. He probably wouldn't want me "outing" him, but it is an important insight into the humility of his heart. In many ways, it qualifies him to write about Jesus, from whom he is borrowing a humble and lowly heart.)
Without further ado, here are my favorite 26:
1. "In the four Gospels ... there is only one place where Jesus tells us about his own heart ... 'I am Gentle and Humble of heart'" (Matt. 11:29; this means Jesus is accessible, approachable).
2. “If Jesus hosted his own personal website, the most prominent line in the ‘About Me’ dropdown would read: Gentle and Lowly in Heart.”
3. “It is impossible for the affectionate heart of Christ to be over-celebrated ...”
4. “Christ is love covered over in flesh.” – Thomas Goodwin
5. Should we be more measured and reasonable (cautious) in discussing the lavish love of Christ for sinners and sufferers? Ortlund answers: “Would a father with a suffocating child want his child to draw on the oxygen tank in a measured, reasonable way?”
6. “Jesus knows what it’s like to be thirsty, hungry, despised, rejected, scorned, shamed, embarrassed, abandoned, misunderstood, falsely accused, suffocated, tortured, and killed. He knows what it is to be lonely ... had he lived today, every last Twitter follower and Facebook friend would have unfriended him when he turned 33 – he who will never unfriend us.”
7. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). When we come to Jesus, “our eyes are opened ... Christ becomes beautiful ... we do not come to a set of doctrines. We do not come to a church. We do not even come to the gospel. All these are vital. But most truly, we come to a person, to Christ Himself.”
8. “Human beings are created with a built-in pull toward beauty ... we are drawn to God by the beauty of the heart of Jesus.”
9. When you look at the glorious older saints in your church, how do you think they got there? Sound doctrine, yes. Resolute obedience, without a doubt. Suffering without becoming cynical, for sure. But maybe another reason, maybe the deepest reason, is that they have, over time, been won over in their deepest affections to a gentle Savior ... maybe they have not only known that Jesus loved them, but felt it.”
10. Were Jesus’ expressions of compassion and anger at odds with one another? “The two (compassion and anger) rise and fall together. A compassionless Christ would never have gotten angry at the injustices around him ... it is the father who loves his daughter most whose anger rises most fiercely if she is mistreated.”
11. “While Christ is a lion to the impenitent, he is a lamb to the penitent.”
12. “The Christian life, from one angle, is the long journey of letting our natural assumptions about who God is, over many decades, fall away, being slowly replaced with God’s own insistence on who he is. This is hard work. It takes a lot of sermons and a lot of suffering to believe that God’s deepest heart is ‘merciful and gracious, slow to anger.’ The fall in Genesis 3 not only sent us into condemnation and exile. The fall also entrenched in our minds dark thoughts about God.”
13. “The message of this book is that we tend to project our natural expectations about who God is onto him instead of fighting to let the Bible surprise us into what God himself says.”
14. God speaks of his people as “his dear son” and “his darling child” (Jeremiah 31:20). “Does your doctrine of God have room for him speaking like that?”
15. “Who do you think God is – not just on paper but in the kind of person you believe is hearing you when you pray? How does he feel about you? His saving of us is not cool and calculating. It is a matter of yearning – not yearning for the Facebook you, the you that you project to everyone around you. Not the you that you wish you were. Yearning for the real you. The you underneath everything you present to others.”
16. “The world is starving for a yearning love ... a love that isn’t tied to our loveliness. A love that gets down under our messiness.”
17. The Bible says God is ‘rich in mercy’ to the believer (Ephesians 2:4). “What does this mean? It means that God is something other than what we naturally believe him to be. It means the Christian life is a lifelong shedding of tepid thoughts of the goodness of God ... It means the things about you that make you cringe most, make him hug hardest.”
18. “There are two ways to live the Christian life. You can live it either for the heart of Christ or from the heart of Christ. You can live for the smile of God or from it. For a new identity as a son or daughter of God or from it.”
19. Regarding our fears, foibles, and vices: “if you trace this fountain of scurrying haste ... down to the root, you don’t find childhood difficulties or Myers-Brigg diagnosis or Freudian impulses. You find gospel deficit. You find lack of felt awareness of Christ’s heart ... the felt love of Christ really is what brings rest, wholeness, flourishing, shalom.”
20. For those who’ve truly come to Christ: “God’s love is an ocean without shores or bottom.” (J. Edwards)
21. “As God did not at first choose you because you were high, he will not now forsake you because you are low.” (John Flavel)
22. “[Jesus] will love you to the end because he cannot bear to do otherwise. No exit strategy. No prenup. He’ll love you to the end.”
23. What of the believer’s future? “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.”
24. “Ephesians 2:7 is telling you that your death is not an end but a beginning. Not a wall but a door. Not an exit, but an entrance.”
25. “For those not in Christ, this life is the best it will ever get. For those in Christ ... this is the worst it will ever get.”
26. “Go to him (Christ). All that means is, open yourself up to him. Let him love you. The Christian life boils down to two steps: 1. Go to Jesus. 2. See #1.
Hopefully these quotations will help put Gentle and Lowly on your reading list!