bits from bob....

Thinking About Elbows: Generous or Selfish?

by Bob Young
©, 2015, Bob Young, Bob Young Resources
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

el bow / 'el-bo / n: the joint of the arm, vb to push aside with the elbow; also: to make a way by elbowing

Think with me about your elbows. Why then did God give us elbows? Plumbers and pipefitters know about and use elbows but those elbows are stationary. Some animals are described as having elbows, but motion is generally more limited than in the human elbow. The human elbow is different.

The elbow is often an evidence of selfishness. It bends so we can draw things to ourselves. When we bend our elbows, often we are taking care of personal needs. We may be eating or drinking, or grooming ourselves.
The elbow is capable of a forcible straightening which we learn to use for pushing people away from us--another kind of selfish movement. No wonder that the dictionary defines the verb form of the word in just that way: He elbowed his way in!
Since the elbow is so often used for survival and self-service we might argue that God meant for us to see after ourselves and to take care of ourselves.

Look at the elbow in another way. How we use our elbows can be evidence of our other-centeredness. A mother drawing a child to her breast uses her elbow. When we embrace one we love, we use our elbows. When we give something to someone who is in need, we straighten that same elbow. As we work to make a difference, as we make our world a better place, as we serve God and one another, we bend and straighten that same elbow many times each day. Mine is bent slightly as I sit at a keyboard and type these words. Those who genuinely follow a servant Christ bend their elbows many times each day for others.

Read the gospels with an eye to identifying specific times Jesus must have used his elbow. Pick a day to notice your elbows. How are you using them? The way you use your elbows very likely symbolizes the way you live life.

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Last updated November 20, 2015