What Is an Expedient?
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). This passage of scripture introduces the subject under consideration. What is an expedient? Webster says that an expedient is that which is "apt and suitable to the end in view etc." Sometimes we think a thing to be in the realm of an expedient when it is actually unscriptural. For anything to be expedient, it first must be lawful! There is no expedient way to do an unlawful thing. It is implied in the scriptures that expediency presupposes Lawfulness.
For an example, it is expedient to have a building in which to assemble. We are commanded in the Hebrew letter to "not forsake the assembling of ourselves together..." (Heb. 10:25). This command implies a place to assemble. It might be under a tree or in a hotel or we may build a place. It is lawful to have a place because we must assemble. The kind of building, etc., comes under the realm of expediency. If it were unlawful to assemble, it would be wrong to build a place to assemble.
It is commanded that we sing praises unto God. Therefore, it is expedient that we have some songs to sing. We could all sing from memory or we can write down the songs, as the Bible was written down. These expedients are aids in carrying out God's commands. Nevertheless, there first must be no methods to use in this field.
Playing an instrument is not an expedient to singing. Why? Because the instrument is another kind of music altogether. Since there is no command to act in that area, there can be no expedient way to play.
If the church did not have the command to act in the area of benevolence, there could be no methods used in carrying out the work. Some think that the institutions formed by the church for the care of orphans are just expedients. These are wrong for the same reasons that the instrument of music is wrong. There is no authority to build the separate organizations. Therefore, they cannot be an expedient. However, methods can be used by the church in doing its work of caring for the needy, because it has been authorized to act in the field of benevolence (Eph. 4.11-12). The work of benevolence must he under the direction of the elders, who in turn can use expedients as long as they are properly exercised. But without the command to act in the field of benevolence, it could not properly be said that this or that is just an expedient.
The recreation craze which is hurting the church much these days is another example of trying to make an action an expedient to an end when the area of activity is unscriptural. If the congregation were authorized to act in the provision of recreation, then certain expedients naturally would follow. But with the absence of authority to act in this field, the church cannot use any method to do that which is not allowed in the first place.
In matters of faith, we must be strong and unwavering, but in matters which rightly come in the realm of expediency, let us consider the other fellows also.
Truth Magazine VII: 3, pp. 16