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20 Quotes from "Gentle and Lowly" by Dane Ortlund

1. This is a book about 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 toward sinners and sufferers? What flows out most freely, most instinctively? Who is he? (13)

2. Meek. Humble. Gentle. Jesus is not trigger-happy. Not harsh, reactionary, easily exasperated. He is the most understanding person in the universe. The posture most natural to him is not a pointed finger but open arms … You don’t need to unburden or collect yourself and then come to Jesus. Your very burden is what qualifies you to come. (19-20)

3. What helium does to a balloon, Jesus’s yoke does to his followers. We are buoyed along in life by his endless gentleness and supremely accessible lowliness. He doesn’t simply meet us at our place of need; he lives in our place of need. (23)

4. Looking inside ourselves, we can anticipate only harshness from heaven. Looking out to Christ, we can anticipate only gentleness. (57)

5. “No, wait” – we say, cautiously approaching Jesus – “you don’t understand. I’ve really messed up, in all kinds of ways.”

“I know,” he responds.

“You know most of it, sure. Certainly more than what others see. But there’s perversity down inside me that is hidden from everyone.”

I know it all.

“Well – the thing is, it isn’t just my past. It’s my present, too.”

I understand.

“But I don’t know if I can break free of this any time soon.”

That’s the only kind of person I’m here to help.

“The burden is heavy – and heavier all the time.”

Then let me carry it.

“It’s too much to bear.”

Not for me.

“You don’t get it! My offenses aren’t directed toward others. They’re against you.”

Then I am the one most suited to forgive them.

”But the more of the ugliness in me you discover, the sooner you’ll get fed up with me.”

Whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (63-64)

6. If you are part of Christ’s own body, your sins evoke his deepest heart, his compassion and pity. He “takes part with you”—that is, he’s on your side. He sides with you against your sin, not against you because of your sin. He hates sin. But he loves you. We understand this, says Goodwin, when we consider the hatred a father has against a terrible disease afflicting his child—the father hates the disease while loving the child. Indeed, at some level the presence of the disease draws out his heart to his child all the more. (71)

7. It is the most counterintuitive aspect of Christianity, that we are declared right with God not once we begin to get our act together but once we collapse into honest acknowledgement that we never will. (78)

8. Jesus is our paraclete, are comforting defender, the one nearer than we know, and his heart is such that he stands and speaks in our defense when we sin, not after we get over it in that sense his advocacy is itself our conquering of it. (92)

9. Human beings are created with a built-in pull toward beauty. We are arrested by it. [Jonathan] Edwards understood this deeply and saw that this magnetic pull toward beauty also occurs in spiritual things — in fact, Edwards would say that it is spiritual beauty of which every other beauty is a shadow or echo. (97)

10. God does not reveal his glory as, “The LORD, exacting and precise,” or, “The LORD, the LORD, disappointed and frustrated.” His highest priority and deepest delight and first reaction—his heart—is merciful and gracious. He gently accommodates himself to our terms rather than overwhelming us with his. (148)

11. “There is nothing that troubles our consciences more,” said John Calvin on this passage [Isaiah 55], “than when we think that God is like ourselves . . . . 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. And that is dependent not on you keeping yourself clean but on you taking your mess to him.” (155; 160)

12. 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. (166)

13. He is a billionaire in the currency of mercy, and the withdrawals we make as we sin our way through life cause his fortune to grow greater, not less. (173)

14. Beneath our smiles at the grocery store and cheerful greetings to the mailman we were quietly enthroning Self and eviscerating our souls of the beauty and dignity and worship for which they were made. Sin was not something we lapsed into; it defined our moment-by-moment existence at the level of deed, word, thought, and, yes, even desire—“carrying out the desires of the body and the mind.” We not only lived in sin; we enjoyed living in sin. We wanted to live in sin. It was our coddled treasure, our Gollum’s ring, our settled delight. In short, we were dead. Utterly helpless. That’s what his mercy healed. (176)

15. That God is rich in mercy means that your regions of deepest shame and regret are not hotels through which Divine Mercy passes but homes in which Divine Mercy abides. It means the things about you that make you cringe most, make him hug hardest. It means his mercy is not calculating and cautious, like ours. It is unrestrained, flood like, sweeping, magnanimous. It means our hunting shame is not a problem for him, but the very thing he loves most to work with. It means our sins do not cause his love to take a hit. Our sins cause his love to surge forward all the more. It means on that day when we stand before him, quietly, unhurriedly, we will weep with relief, shocked at how impoverished a view of his mercy-rich heart we had. (179-180)

16. The battle of the Christian life is to bring your own heart into alignment with Christ’s, that is, getting up each morning and replacing your natural orphan mindset with the mindset of full and free adoption into the family of God through the work of Christ your older brother, who loved you and gave himself for you out of the overflowing fullness of his gracious heart. (181)

17. Law-ish-ness, of-works-ness, is by its very nature undetectable because it’s natural, not unnatural, to us. It feels normal. “Of works” to fallen people is what water is to a fish. (186)

18. His heart for his own is not like an arrow, shot quickly but soon falling to the ground; or a runner, quick out of the gate, soon slowing and faltering. His heart is an avalanche, gathering momentum with time; a wildfire, growing in intensity as it spreads. (203)

19. When we live to glorify God, we step into the only truly humanizing way of living. We function properly, like a car running on gasoline rather than orange juice. And on top of that, what more enjoyable kind of life is there? How exhausting is the misery of self. How energizing are the joys of living for another. (205)

20. Go to him. 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. (216)


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