OceanSide church of Christ
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by: Dalton Gilreath
The apostle Paul wrote, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Cor 6:12 KJV). The concept of expediency is often misunderstood. In fact, the religious world likes to use the term as an avenue to excuse sin. Some argue Paul is suggesting that nothing is inherently sinful. However, Paul had just given a list of sins that will keep one from the kingdom of Heaven (6:9-11). His point was not that everything is allowed, but that some things, while not inherently sinful, are not helpful. In fact, in the following passages he uses the example of food and physical relationships. Eating food is certainly not contrary to God’s will. However, when the food has been offered to idols it becomes an issue of expediency. This is primarily because others may have their conscience violated by that action (cf. 1 Cor 8:1-13). In addition, Paul mentions the physical relationships of man. This activity is a natural desire given by God. Yet, if used for fornication it becomes sinful as this privilege is thereby abused.
Considering other uses of the Greek word sumphero, the term translated expedient, will help to better explain its meaning. For example, Jesus uses the term in Matthew 5:29-30. He uses the body as an illustration for teaching. He mentions that if the eye is hindering one spiritually it is “profitable” for it to be removed to keep the whole body from Hell. Another example is found in John 16:7. Jesus tells His disciples that it is “to your advantage” for Him to go away and send the Holy Spirit to them (ESV). These examples give the essence of the term. Expediency is a word to be used when describing how “profitable” or “advantageous” an action is. Paul wanted Christians to consider that just because something is acceptable does not mean it is the most “profitable” or “advantageous” action to take. God blessed man with a mind and expects him to use it appropriately as to avoid making rash decisions. The fact is, a mature Christian not only considers whether a decision is sinful or not sinful, but whether it is best and how it will affect others spiritually.