‘Crush compulsion toward self-exaltation,’ says KBC leader Woods at Southern Seminary
Kentucky Baptist leader Curtis Woods urged Christians to learn “the hard work of heart work” in a message on Psalm 131 at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, March 26.
“Psalm 131 is tailored to teach us how to crush our compulsion toward self-exaltation,” said Woods, associate executive director for convention relations and communications for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “The only way to do maintenance on the soul ... is to understand that we must have a high view of the absolute sovereignty and the goodness of God above his creation and above our individual lives.”
Woods, who is also a Ph.D. student at Southern Seminary, said believers often do not come to the issue of soul care with a correct understanding but with a heart that has disordered affections. According to Woods, there are times when focus shifts from God to creature-comforts and academic accolades, putting so much confidence on intelligence, strength, or financial standing that those things become gods. If believers are to be the type of people that are constantly reflecting the righteousness of God, they must believe that “heart work” will be the hardest work they will ever do, he said.
Allowing Psalm 131 to mull over in believers’ minds will allow it to transform the affections because it is short on verses but long on virtue, Woods said.
“The only way that we can do heart work in a way that will glorify the triune God is for us to submit our thoughts to the message of Scripture,” he said. “In fact, as an academic community of faith, we must hear Psalm 131, memorize it, and meditate on it if we are going to serve God with a complete heart.”
Woods encouraged believers to embrace the distinction of the Creator and the creature and walk in humility. They are not to only read Scripture but to allow Scripture to read them. Pride is an epidemic vice and humility cannot coexist with it, Woods explained; thus, like David, a Christian’s heart, eyes, and affections must not be raised too high.
“Everybody that you meet is decorated dust. They have dignity because they are made in the image of God, but do not allow yourself to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think,” Woods said, referencing Genesis 2:7. Woods recited a song he wrote for his young sons to illustrate that even powerful leaders and celebrities in the world are merely “decorated dust.”
Woods also explained that believers must know their limitations. It is wise for a man to be aware of his own size, he said. There are things of God that believers know to be true because they can be seen in Scripture, but they are also outside of comprehension. Woods said it is wise for the believer to know when to say, “I do not know.”
He also urged Christians to cultivate their contentment in God by taking personal responsibility for calming and quieting their souls. It is a desire to no longer control the uncontrollable. To do so means that “you are not competing with anyone else anymore,” he said. “You are just looking toward a great Savior who has done all the work on your behalf to create contentment and to cultivate joy and peace.”
“Cling to Christ-centered hope, because Christ’s sufficiency is all the hope you need,” he said in his final exhortation. “We need to cultivate a heart that is content in Christ, knowing that heart work is hard work, but through Christ, mediated by the Holy Spirit, beloved family of God, we can do this work and run this race together.”
Audio and video for Wood’s chapel message are available at sbts.edu/resources.