The apostle Paul wrote: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (1 Corinthians 10:23) What exactly does this mean?
First, I guess we should note what it does not mean. Paul is not talking about things like murder, adultery, etc. But rather he is discussing things which, in and of themselves, are not wrong. What exactly then does he mean? He means that there are things which, in and of themselves, are not sinful but, nevertheless, they are not the right thing to do. They are not the right thing to do because they are not expedient.
This raises another question: What are the criteria for determining if an action is expedient or not? Webster defines expedient this way: “Suitable for achieving a particular end.” This fits perfectly with what Paul wrote in the last half of the verse: “All things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” So we should always ask the question: “How will the path I have chosen affect me and others spiritually? Will it edify or not? Will it help or hinder?” Our words and deeds must always be measured by whether or not they contribute to the spiritual welfare of our fellow Christians as well as ourselves.
Jesus also helps us by His statement: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) So we should ask: “What will what I’m doing look like to others?” Along this very line Paul wrote: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) We should never forget that we Christians are called to a very high standard. Claude