Gentle and Lowly: Discussion of Chapter 3 — The Happiness of Christ

Hi @Interested_In_Book_Studies,

This chapter is a meditation on Hebrews 12:2, “For the joy that was set before him . . .”

Building on the thought of Thomas Goodwin, Dane Ortlund writes:

When you come to Christ for mercy and love and help in your anguish and perplexity and sinfulness, you are going with the flow of his own deepest wishes, not against them.

Further, Christ’s joy in forgiving us is in part because of his desire for us:

And he doesn’t just want us to be forgiven. He wants us. How does Jesus speak of his own deepest desires? Like this: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me” (John 17:24).

Amazingly, the Bible teaches we are not at a great distance. Rather, we learn in Ephesians 5 that we are members of Christ’s body!

Jesus Christ is comforted when you draw from the riches of his atoning work, because his own body is getting healed.

As I read this chapter, I appreciated the various analogies that Ortlund used to show us how we do have parallels to Christ’s joy in helping others.

At the same time, Os Guinness has helpfully said that “Contrast is the mother of clarity.” I felt a strong internal dissonance in reading this chapter.

What to do with that experience?

Why, bring it to Jesus! He will find great joy in mending my perception of who he is!

I am now trying another approach.

It goes like this: oh, I see a temptation within myself? Jesus would enjoy discussing that with me! To him I fly! Oh, do I realize how I’ve gone after an idol? Jesus would be delighted for me to unburden my heart to him. Let me speak to him now…

Discussion Questions

  1. How do you feel about your sin and troubles?
  2. Do you think that Jesus finds joy in helping you?
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I feel that my sins, yesterday, today & forever are forgiven. However, I feel I must strive to not let sin overwhelm me and there is a power in sin that keeps us beguiled. This negative power is contrary to having a whole & satisfied Christian life. We cannot live a double life & receive the full blessings from our Lord.

Yes, I know that Jesus finds joy in helping all of us. We are His children. The Bible tells me so :notes:

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I think of the easy yoke and light burden of Matthew 11:30. If I bear my sin by myself it is heavy indeed. If I ask Jesus to take it the load lightens and he heals me. I still need to bear it in some ways; consequences follow. Nevertheless, I can bring even these to Jesus and he will help me to bear them. I can be Judas, who hanged himself, or I can be Peter, who grieved but sought forgiveness and healing.

I know that Jesus finds joy in helping me because I feel joyful when I can help people. I feel acutely joyful when my son seeks my help and I am able to help him. I do not take pleasure in imposing discipline, but the outcome of that discipline brings joy. I take pleasure in helping my wife when her knee hurts. I love to help my parents. If helping others brings joy to me, then Jesus certainly feels joy when I come to him for help.

I love Ortlund’s illustration of the jungle doctor. It helps me to understand his point. I can think of similar occasions in my own life. I have worked with some difficult people. Most of them were really tough. They attended individual counseling sessions in order to check off their checklist, but did not appear to gain anything. Some showed genuine interest in changing; these brought the most joy to my heart. Jesus must feel the same way when just one person lets him help and heal.

I am not entirely comfortable imagining Jesus’s body (of which we are the parts) being healed. I get Ortlund’s point that Jesus takes pleasure in healing his family. I just would not have worded the concept as Ortlund did. Maybe it is just that it feels too–selfish? physical? I do not know. At any rate it is food for thought.

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I had to read this chapter twice…
This only works in my brain when thinking of Jesus as high priest. I had to reflect on my heart, do I consider it a joy to help others. Naturally I say no. It feels at time like a chore that I roll my eyes at. I will do it though for different reasons. I think the joy comes when the outcome I, again I, want happens.
I have a homeless friend that I am trying to help. He calls and needs help getting hotel rooms and such cause he does not have an ID. I do it cause he is my brother in Christ. I want though for him to make strides to better his life. I had joy when he got a social security card. I will feel more joy when he has an ID. My ultimate joy will come when he turns his life around and then helps others do the same based upon what Christ has done in His life. Heck that is what Jesus has done with me and my past so why not with my homeless friend. All in all maybe this chapter is hard for me to grasp because of my own heart. But Jesus as high priest brings clarity.

My first feeling when reading this chapter was “ok…so let me go out and sin so Jesus can have mercy on me and it will bring Him joy.” Like I said I had to read it twice…
Like the father throwing a party when the younger son returned from his crazy life so Jesus did with me when I abandoned running my own life and began (slowly) to surrender it to Him. I remember vividly a certain moment where I felt God was pushing me toward a life changing decision to be honest with my wife. I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to take my secrets to the grave. But I gave in and that began to break the sin pattern and start a healing process in me and my marriage. I felt like I won something. I felt like Jesus was cheering me on and then rejoicing with I was obedient. It is bringing tears to my eyes to think about that. My sin and troubles have brought me to the pit and then Jesus pulled me out. My sin and troubles in the end brought me closer to Him as savior, as counselor, as healer, as brother, and as friend. Now I know that He is the high priest. Sitting in the holy of holies, interceding on my behalf to the Father. (enter question 2)

As high priest absolutely. It is His job now to intercede for me. He is in the holy of holies. In the inner room. It brings Him joy to do His job. He delights when I lean on Him with my temptations instead of trying to deal with them on my own. I let Him do the battle and in Colossians chapter 2 it tells me that He nails it to the cross. Present tense. I win through His work! He fights my battles cause I let Him. I learned that from Hezekiah. It brings Him great joy that I delight in Him and trust Him implicitly now. I learned to do that because I learned I could trust Him. And He has never failed me. He is faithful and true like it says. I push into Him when I have questions and trust His way of answering me. He is patient and gentle. Jesus is my best friend. I want my intimacy to grow in Him and I think this book is helping. May I abide in His love and He delight in me.

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The unfortunate part is I have to purposely diligently slow down to assess my ‘sin’ so that I can go before the Father and ask for forgiveness. There are times I hear Him point my sin out to me, gently chiding me, rebuking me, correcting me. Other times, life’s distractions are much louder. I read Respectable Sins (two or three times) by Jerry Bridges. That was an eye opener to me and my sins. This list is in my journal each morning for my quiet time to gently remind me of the slippery slope of sin, little sins, respectable sins. So how do I feel about my sin and troubles? I have become more consciously aware how far I fall short…BUT because of question#2

I see Christ has my biggest cheerleader in my corner. Now that I am older with two teenage girls, I see the relationship parallel between Christ and me, and my daughters and me. My 18 year old is moving toward adult hood and I, myself moving from a constant parenting role to one of guidance and gentle suggestive direction without overtly telling her what to do. I love her and I want her to be in love with Jesus and fall hard after him, but I see the world pulling hard at her and I see the challenges she faces. I can’t tell her how to do it and I can’t keep her from falling on her face at times, if she is going to choose against my suggestion or guidance or blatantly go against God’s commands. Much like me and Christ’s gently suggestions and recommendations for me, if I am going to purposely go against his will, then he will let me fall on my face. Prayerfully I then go to him with a repentant heart as he soothes my skinned knees. As I see the parallels, I am navigating these teenage years a bit more gracefully with her 16 year sister coming up behind. God is gracious and kind in using life’s relationship to show me and grow me. Jesus is my biggest cheerleader and for that I am so thankful to know that he will chide me, yet cheer me, just as I do with my teenage daughters.

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Greetings Kathy,
Your opening statement is powerful and so important to possess this belief deep in our hearts. We are forgiven. Jesus is at the right hand of the Father making intersession for us when we do blow it. The next step I take is to meditate on the many scriptures concerning God’s love and care for me. Over time as I have come to believe deeply that God really, really loves me, even when I blow it, has set me free to love Jesus deeply. I am so grateful for his ongoing forgiveness of my sins, and incredible grace poured out in my life. The result is the last thing I want to do is sin because I love him. I want to honor him, share his message with others, and be a light wherever I go. When temptation comes I declare II Cor. 5:21, I am the righteousness of God in Christ. When I need his strength I declare, Jesus I can’t, but you can. Many times I have felt him pouring his strength into me. Living in union with Jesus daily, allows me to be filled and fulfilled in every way. God bless you.

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Greetings Carson,
How do I feel about my sin & troubles? With sin, forgiven, justified and righteous through my relationship with Jesus Christ. Troubles? Yes, I have them too, but I have learned to cast my cares on him because he cares for me. I went through 7 weeks of cancer treatment 6 years ago. It is a long story with many roadblocks along the way, but God came through every time. Through our time in Houston we helped 6 people come to faith in Christ. Three years ago I severed a tendon in my right hand; my finger was useless. Three days later God totally healed my hand, witnessed by several doctors. I meditate on the Love Jesus has for me daily. It blows my mind that the creator of all things would leave Heaven, become a human, and give his life to redeem mine. His love for us is so profound that it is beyond fully knowing this side of Heaven. In a sense I have no troubles. Even if I die as a martyr I will be with my Savior in a place so incredible that is beyond my wildest dreams.

Do I think Jesus finds joy in helping me? Absolutely! I am a war veteran & retired police officer. Even before I knew Jesus as savior he protected me from sniper bullets–they barely missed, but they missed. As a cop I knew Jesus. He protected me, gave me wisdom to handle difficult situations, calmed me when I faced two armed robbers alone. I took them both into custody, and no one got hurt. I often had a sense of the presence of Jesus, and him smiling on me.

Summary, many do not believe they are forgiven; they don’t believe the word of God to be true for them. Troubles? Yes, we all have them, and the Word of God tells us we will have troubles. We can choose to stew in our troubles, or we can invite Jesus to walk us through our troubles. I love the picture of footprints in the beach sand, and then there was one set of prints when Jesus picks us up and carries us. He will carry us if we give our burdens to him. He loves us more than we will ever know this side of Heaven.God bless you.

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Wow, what a special testimony that God has given you! I am so encouraged to read these stories this morning.

I am also grateful that for each of us, in the circumstances of every day:

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I feel deeply grieved by my sin. But like the woman in Luke 7:47, my sin drives me to Jesus.

“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

I agree with Jim, that troubles are just a part of life. I have learned over time that God really is trustworthy. He is faithful to His promise to never leave us or forsake us! I am learning to trust Him more and more.

I found this idea really intriguing. And yet as a parent and a therapist, I totally understand this. It brings me great joy to help others who are hurting. I had just never thought of my relationship to Jesus (in regard to my sin) in those terms. I have been thinking about this idea for days. :heart: It draws my heart to Him all the more!

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Jim, I might have passed by this statement if it were not for our topic. Many people might simply have said, “I took them both into custody.” That you added “and no one got hurt” reveals your heart. You were in a dangerous situation that God’s hand clearly guided to everyone’s benefit. You cared for innocent and guilty alike. That is Christ. God bless you for your faithfulness!

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Thanks Brendan, The heart of Jesus is for the lost & downtrodden. We are now doing prison ministry with tremendous results. They are very hungry to hear the message of God’s amazing grace. May you be safe and well!

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https://connect.rzim.org/t/gentle-and-lowly-discussion-of-chapter-4-able-to-sympathize/39375

Link for the next chapter if that helps.

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1.How do you feel about your sin and troubles?

I can relate to the feelings of ‘dissonance’ in this chapter. But it was so good for me to think, pray, read and discuss these ideas. I would have to agree that it has changed my response to ‘sin and trouble’. Instead of running away to hide and mope, or trying to defend and justify myself, I find myself running TO Jesus for help! How freeing this has been. And I have also experienced a closeness to Him that I don’t usually feel when struggling with sin.

2.Do you think that Jesus finds joy in helping you?
When reading pages 35-36, regarding our being able to give Him joy by coming to Him with our sin, I was stopped in my tracks. I had to remind myself of the author’s affirmation that Jesus is, not was, completely God and completely man. This thought always astounds me. I had been told as a young person in catechism, that God was perfect and didn’t have emotions. Because of that, I felt estranged from Him for many years. Now I am beginning to understand that He does have emotions , and that fact is supported by many scriptures. (The difference is that He is not controlled by them!) And, yes, I do believe He is filled with joy, and not diminished, when we come to Him with our sin. It is exactly what He wants!
A win-win!

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Loved reading this chapter and through this thread. @Lauri.lienhard - I relate to your post and appreciate your honesty! @JimO Jim, your post encourages me to keep striving to renew my mind; take God’s word as truth!! What a testimony you have.

I struggle with shame and tend to feel I have let God down; failed Him. But this chapter opens the floodgates to His mercy and unimaginable love. Knowing He is longing to heal and remove my burdens not only frees me, but allows me to forgive myself, and from there, forgive others. I picture it like a waterfall. He lavishes us with a waterfall of love and forgiveness, which refreshes, purifies, heals, washes away and saturates us. But it’s never just a small trickle of water, it’s a gentle downpour of more than enough so that it can then flow to others.

Running to Him and receiving that freedom allows you and gives you that desire to freely give to others. I don’t know that we can ever love and forgive others, if we ourselves do not feel loved and forgiven. Like grumpy birds in a cage with the door open, if my focus is on me then I will never appreciate the open door of the cage and soar.

Great Chapter! Good News! Adios dirty cage…

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Your post is very inspiring, thank you!

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