|Volume 21 Number 6 June 2019||
Brian R. Kenyon
What is meant by the term “expediency”? The English definition of the term “expedient” is that which is “useful for effecting a desired result; suited to the circumstances or the occasion; advantageous; convenient” (Webster’s Dictionary, Third College Edition, 1986). There is also a negative sense in which the word is used, namely, the idea of getting gain for oneself regardless of what is right or just, but the basic meaning of the term is that which gives advantage. The English word “expedient” is found seven times in the King James Version of the Bible (John 11:50; 16:7; 18:14; 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23; 2 Corinthians 8:10; 12:1). The Greek word sumphero (συμφέρω), from which “expedient” is translated, occurs in nine other places. It is translated “profit” (1 Corinthians 7:35; 10:33; 12:7; Hebrews 12:10), “profitable” (Matthew 5:29-30; Acts 20:20), “better” (Matthew 18:6), “is [not] good” (Matthew 19:10), and “brought… together” (Acts 19:19).
Expediencies Must First Be Lawful
Of particular interest are the references in First Corinthians: “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” (6:12) and “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (10:23). “Expedient” (from sumphero, which can also be translated “helpful” NKJ or “profitable” NAS) means “to help, confer a benefit, be advantageous or profitable or useful…something that is useful or helpful” (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature). It must be understood that no unlawful action can be done expediently (Romans 3:8). Additionally, merely because an action is lawful does not mean it is always expedient—all lawful actions do not necessarily edify (1 Corinthians 10:23; 8:1-13). The unlawful pursuit of a lawful thing constitutes bondage, and thus results in sin (1 Corinthians 6:12; Romans 6:16). All actions must have Bible authority (Colossians 3:17; 2 John 9-11). The Bible authorizes by its explicit statements, revealed examples and implication. These avenues of authority must be ascertained by “handling aright the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 ASV).
Applications of Expediency
In most authorized actions there are areas of expediency. For example, the Bible authorizes Christians to partake of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, and that they are to use unleavened bread and “fruit of the vine” (Matthew 26:26-28; Acts 20:7). However, the Bible gives no exclusive pattern as to what time on the first day of the week the Lord’s Supper must be served. Thus, the time of day during which the congregation partakes of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week is a matter of expediency. There is just as much authority for partaking of it at 9:30 a.m. as there is at 2:30 p.m.
Expediency is also involved in other God-authorized actions such as in what body of water one should be baptized (in a baptistry or in a natural body of water), singing (with songbooks or by memory), preaching the Gospel (in the pulpit, on television, radio or via the Internet). Where there is no exclusive pattern given for fulfilling a God-authorized obligation, and as long as the obligatory action is not altered or omitted, any expedient action (which is not inherently sinful) may be used. Remember, an “expedient” is that which gives advantage.
Not only is New Testament Christianity the only religion authorized and approved by God, it is the only religion that will work in any culture. One reason why it will work in every culture is because it has the built-in principle of expediency. That is, its requirements can be carried out in a number of different ways so long as the requirement itself does not change. As seen with the Lord’s Supper, one cup or many cups, before preaching or after preaching, whatever works best for a particular congregation, is fine. We should never let a matter of expediency split a local church, yet in many (perhaps even most) cases a disagreement over expediencies is exactly the cause. Let us work together and cooperate in building up and expanding the borders of God’s kingdom!
In Honor of Godly Fathers
Father’s Day is a day to recognize the role fathers play in society. It is believed to have been first celebrated as a compliment to Mother’s Day on July 5, 1908, but it wasn’t made a federal holiday until 1966. Interestingly enough, where Mother’s Day was met with enthusiasm, Father’s Day was met with amusement, the target of satire and derision, as many people saw it as an effort to fill up the calendar with promotions for merchants.
For some individuals, this impression of Father’s Day may be true. There are many fathers who are absent in their roles as provider and leader in the family, whose example is less than exemplary. The image of father has not been helped, either, by portrayals in the media of dads as mindless, self-absorbed individuals who are clueless about their families. However, this doesn’t change what the role is of a father or that many men try to do their best to be what God expects of them. We are thankful for those who understand how important the role of a father is in the home and in society, who seek to submit to God and exhibit Him in their lives.
God has entrusted a great responsibility to fathers. Paul penned, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Children need discipline to learn the parameters God has established for living, to hear it from loving fathers and to see it lived out in their fathers’ lives, too. The role of spiritual headship God has given to fathers complements well the role of nurturing God has entrusted to mothers. Children need to understand dad’s authority is given by God, but it is to be tempered by the love of God as well. Children should know their fathers aren’t perfect, but they are loving, caring and obedient to God just as He wants them to be, wanting the best for their children, now and eternally.
A father’s responsibility is carried out when rules have to be enforced but also when he sits down and talks with his children about life. It’s seen on the banks of a pond, fishing with a son, or in a bedroom, having a tea party with a daughter. It’s observed in the pride he feels for his children’s successes and the grief he bears for their failures and hurts. It’s known in their understanding that they can always go and talk with him and that no matter how bad things are, he will always love them. They realize how deep his commitment to them runs, not just in what he provides for them physically, but in seeing him lead family devotions, offering prayers on their behalf to God and taking them, not sending them, to worship. In these ways, and many more, fathers fulfill God’s charge to them and make a positive difference in the lives of their families.
I am grateful for having seen this in my father, and the memories I have of him still speak to me today, helping me to be my best. I don’t believe one ought to stop being this kind of father. It means a lot to children, no matter how young or old the children may be, to know their father is there for them. Even if you haven’t had the most positive example of a father in your life, you can know you have a Heavenly Father who is everything a father should be for you. Father’s Day isn’t a mistake. Rather, it’s a reminder of all that is best in God and in ourselves. “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13).