When I went to school, the focus was on learning information. Today, as my kids go to school, the focus is more often on discerning information. With so much information available on the internet, the challenge for our young people is not learning new information but discerning between helpful or correct information and everything else. The same can be said about Christian content. We can find a sermon on every passage of the bible on the internet, and probably a pastor advocating whatever we would like to hear, but how do we discern what is good and helpful?
Paul’s words to the Corinthian church are helpful for us to consider in this way. As Paul defends his ministry against accusations, he sets out some helpful 'markers of ministry' ordained by God. Paul does not use the weapons of this world (v4) nor does he does not seek to coerce or manipulate; rather Paul advocates that we lean on the power of God to demolish strongholds. Ministers of the gospel don’t seek to commend themselves or compare themselves with others (v12), rather they seek to follow faithfully where God has called (v13). Their desire is that the gospel to be preached (v16), and God’s Kingdom to be expanded, not for their own glory, but for God’s (v17). The focus of Paul’s defense is a life focused on glorifying God and proclaiming and demonstrating Christ.
Paul says that he takes captive “every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (v 5). Everything must be evaluated under the Lordship to Christ. As we sit under different teachers and gather information from different Christian sources, we need to be looking to make every thought obedient to Christ, evaluating it against scripture and in the context of Christian community. Where we see teachers and preachers promoting themselves, their unique knowledge, or the ministry they have done, we should proceed with caution. We should be seeking to learn from faithful believers, who seek to model and glorify Christ in all they do.