• W. Austin Gardner

Tit for Tat Payback



The natural flow of the fallen human heart is toward reciprocity, tit-for-tat payback, equanimity, balancing of the scales. We are far more intractably law-ish than we realize. There is something healthy and glorious buried in that impulse, of course—made in God’s own image, we desire order and fairness rather than chaos. But that impulse, like every part of us, has been diseased by the ruinous fall into sin. Our capacity to apprehend the heart of God has gone into meltdown.


Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 157.


Out of his heart flows mercy; out of ours, reluctance to receive it. We are the cool and calculating ones, not he. He is open-armed. We stiff-arm. Our naturally decaffeinated views of God’s heart might feel right because we’re being stern with ourselves, not letting ourselves off the hook too easily. Such sternness feels appropriately morally serious. But this deflecting of God’s yearning heart does not reflect Scripture’s testimony about how God feels toward his own. God is of course morally serious, far more than we are. But the Bible takes us by the hand and leads us out from under the feeling that his heart for us wavers according to our loveliness. God’s heart confounds our intuitions of who he is.


Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 166–167.


There is comfort concerning such infirmities, in that your very sins move him to pity more than to anger.… Christ takes part with you, and is far from being provoked against you, as all his anger is turned upon your sin to ruin it; yea, his pity is increased the more towards you, even as the heart of a father is to a child that has some loathsome disease, or as one is to a member of his body that has leprosy, he hates not the member, for it is his flesh, but the disease, and that provokes him to pity the part affected the more. What shall not make for us, when our sins, that are both against Christ and us, shall be turned as motives to him to pity us the more?


Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 167.


The world is starving for a yearning love, a love that remembers instead of forsakes. A love that isn’t tied to our loveliness. A love that gets down underneath our messiness. A love that is bigger than the enveloping darkness we might be walking through even today. A love of which even the very best human romance is the faintest of whispers.


Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 168.


Check out the Society of Mentors. This is a meeting of mentors who desire to personally grow while continually impacting others with reaching the world with the gospel.

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