When I was in high school I enjoyed staying busy in whatever sport I could. One of those sports was wrestling. I still vividly remember my first week on the wrestling team. The first week of practices the coach pushed us hard to see who was there to stay and who would walk away. That first week he also laid out what was expected of us to be a part of the team. Although I do not remember all the expectations one of them stands out very clearly in my mind—no sugar, no carbonation. The no carbonation didn’t really bother me because I have never been much of a soda drinker but the no sugar hit me hard—I love sweets! Why would he tell us we were not allowed sugar while we were on the wrestling team? Could you wrestle and eat sugar? The truth is, I do not know if other teams we wrestled that had this requirement. What was our coach doing? He was pushing us to be in the best shape so that we could be the best wrestler we could be. He knew that with sugar in our system we would not have the stamina that we could have without it.
There are many things just like this in our Christian life. They are not wrong but they don’t push us closer to Christ either. In I Corinthians 10:23, Paul, writing to the Christians in Corinth says “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” That word “expedient” means “hastening or urging forward.” It means “suitable for the purpose.” Paul was telling these Christians that there are many things that he would be allowed to do but doesn’t because they do not urge him forward as a Christian. They are not suitable for the purpose God laid out for his life.
Far too often we ask ourselves, “What is wrong with this?” when, in reality, we ought to be asking ourselves, “Will this push me forward in my Christian life?” We will say, “Where does the Bible condemn this?” when we should be asking, “Where does the Word of God condone this?” Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should. Just because the Bible doesn’t directly forbid something doesn’t mean it is going to push me closer to Christ or even be suitable for the purpose He laid out for my life.
When we take our focus off of ourselves and put it where it belongs, on Christ, it will change the way we think. We will no longer ask, “What is wrong with it?” but rather “How will this improve my walk with God?”
Every day we should be growing as Christians and conforming more and more to the image of Christ. Let me give you three questions that will help you determine if something is expedient or not.
1. Is there a Bible command against it?
If there is a command in the Bible that tells you not to then don’t! However’ I find that many times a Christian will know what the Bible teaches about a subject, but because their hearts are not right they will look for a loop-hole to justify their disobedience. Let’s just take the Bible at its Word and obey it! Let’s stop trying to make it “gray” in areas we do not want to obey.
2. Will this push me forward in my Christian walk?
Just because I can do something without breaking a Bible command doesn’t mean I should. In fact, the Bible doesn’t just condemn sin, it condemns the absence of doing right. James 4:17 says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” So our question ought to be then “What is right to do?” or “Will this push me forward in my Christian walk?” “Will I be closer to Christ if I do this?”
3. Is this suitable for my purpose?
Our purpose as Christians is to please God (Revelation 4:11). The word “suitable” means “fitting” or “agreeable to.” Is the action suitable to your purpose? If I do this, is it agreeable to pleasing God? Is it something that would be fitting for a Christian?
Just because I can doesn’t mean I always should. Paul said that all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient.