Gentle and Lowly

One of my favorite statements from Jesus is found in Matthew 11:28-30, where He said 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. There is so much beauty in those verses.

December’s book of the month, Dane Ortland’s Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers is based on that text. This book helped me as a follower of Jesus Christ, and it taught me how to better pastor people who are hurting or mired in sin.

Many Christians who get mired in sin believe that God is displeased with them. They have fallen out of favor. Perhaps God is even waiting for a chance to make them pay for their weaknesses. Sufferng can raise similar thoughts. Maybe their hardship is God’s punishment for some past sin. Because they feel guilt, shame, or despair about life, they think that God must feel the same way about them.

This book paints a very different picture. Christ is not an aloof Monarch. He is a gentle Savior who is drawn to us in our weaknesses. He does not deal harshly with a weak lamb. He is tender, stooping down into their muck so He can lift them out of it. He is the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to find the single stray. When He finds it, He lifts it gently to His shoulders and carries it home. Once it is safely back into the fold, He rejoices over its restoration. 

I do not know of a book that better captures the heart of Christ towards the weak, weary, or hurting. Ortland understands God’s grace in a profound way, and he has the skill to communicate its depths in understandable ways. To the self-righteous person who thinks God accepts them because of their performance, this book will have little effect. But to the person who is wearied by the struggles of this life, tired of their sin, and ready to move from guilt to freedom, this book will be a comfort and a teacher. Freedom from sin and strength in suffering comes from drawing near to the Savior whose gentle and lowly heart compelled Him to deal with our sin on the cross. This is the heart of the Savior who said, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”