From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling.
— 1 Timothy 1:6
Have you ever been in a situation where you found it hard to submit graciously to the orders of the person in authority over you? Maybe you thought that the orders were unfair or that you had a better idea. Or can you think of a moment when a fellow employee, staff member, or volunteer became so obstinate, disagreeable, or uncooperative that it made everyone else feel uneasy?
We’ve probably all had experiences in which one person’s belligerence caused us and those around us to feel ill at ease. This uneasy circumstance is particularly awkward when everyone else is in agreement and willing to do what is being asked, but one person decides to defy those in authority. Refusing to budge, unwilling to give an inch, this kind of person can put the entire group and project “on hold” because a stubborn, quarrelsome, provoking, “pig-headed” attitude stalemates everything!
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Can you think of a person you know who acts like this? Have you ever been that person I’m describing? Can you remember an instance when you were the one who acted like a “bone out of joint” with the rest of the team?
Today I want us to look at the phrase “a bone out of joint” and see what it means. I’m taking this phrase from First Timothy 1:6, so let’s go there first to see how Paul used it and how it applies to you and me today.
When the book of First Timothy was written, young Timothy had only recently stepped into the position of senior pastor. In the early months of his pastoral ministry, he was simultaneously enjoying phenomenal successes and huge challenges. The successes had to do with the growth his church was experiencing. However, Timothy also had to deal with rebellious leaders who didn’t like him or who thought he was too young to be the pastor of such a large church. These leaders had no desire to submit to Timothy’s authority or follow his vision.
The attitudes of these argumentative leaders became so rank that Paul wrote to Timothy about this problem. Referring to the belligerent people under Timothy’s authority, Paul said, “From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling” (1 Timothy 1:6).
I want you to especially pay close attention to the words “turned aside.” These words come from the Greek word ektrepo, which means to turn or to twist. This word was also a medical term used in the medical world to denote a bone that had slipped out of joint. So when Paul used this word to picture these argumentative and stubborn leaders, he was making a powerful statement about them and their bad attitudes. He was calling them “a bone out of joint”!
When a person has a bone that is out of joint, it’s a very difficult, painful experience. Although that bone is still located inside his body and isn’t broken, it isn’t properly connected. Therefore, it becomes a major source of pain and irritation, sending signals of pain throughout the entire body. If you’ve ever had an out-of-joint bone in your body, you know how excruciatingly painful it can be. Nearly every movement of the body is affected as that out-of-joint bone screams misery throughout your entire central nervous system!
This is exactly the image Paul had in mind when he used the word ektrepo to describe the unruly, difficult church members Timothy was trying to work with. Although these people were saved and valuable to God, they had become a source of pain and irritation to the pastor and ultimately to the entire church because of their rebellious attitude and refusal to cooperate. The strife they had caused in the church was a distraction that pulled Timothy from what he needed to be doing, constantly demanding that he try to bring peace. All these problems resulted from the rebellious attitudes of a few people who didn’t want to follow the senior leadership of the Ephesian church. In the end, they became “out of joint,” not only with their pastor but with the entire congregation.
Paul’s words in First Timothy 1:6 could be interpreted:
“Some among you have become like a bone out of joint — a source of real pain and irritation to the whole body.”
A sincere act of repentance can snap “out-of-joint” people back into their rightful place so they can begin to function properly and become productive members of the church. But no one can make them repent and get their attitude right. It’s a decision only they have the power to make. Once they make this decision, they can again become a benefit and a joy to everyone around them.
Do you know anyone who fits this “out-of-joint” description? Is it you? If it is you, it’s time for you to reevaluate your attitude and the issues you have allowed to become so divisive in your life. Are those issues really so important that you should let them make you a “thorn in the side” of everyone else in the group? Is it possible that you’ve allowed the enemy to use you to bring division? Have you become a source of distraction, pulling the group’s attention from where it ought to be?
If you’ve become a “bone out of joint” in your home, in the workplace, in your church, or in any other area of your life, do everything you can to snap yourself back into the godly attitude and behavior you ought to be displaying. Get back in place, for you have a divine call to fulfill! Your gifts and cooperation are needed by those who are running their spiritual race alongside you!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, help me to never be viewed as an argumentative, belligerent, disagreeable person by those who know me — especially by those who are working with me toward a common goal. If I’ve done anything to be perceived this way, I am sincerely asking You to forgive me right now. But I know that I don’t just need Your forgiveness; I also need to ask for forgiveness from those who felt uncomfortable with my wrong behavior so my relationship with them can be made right. I need Your help to keep a right attitude, Lord, so I am asking You to help me to stay open-minded and correctable. Help me to always maintain a humble spirit and to strive to get along with the key people You have placed in my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I have a teachable, correctable spirit. People love to work with me because I strive to be cooperative and to show appreciation for those who are working with me toward a common goal. When an idea is presented that is new or different to me, I think carefully before I open my mouth to respond. Even if I disagree, I don’t show disrespect for anyone in the group. I realize that I am not always right and that others may be correct, so I make room for others to express themselves and to speak their hearts, and I honor their right to hold a position that is different from mine
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Can you recall an experience when you were in a group where someone’s belligerent attitude made everyone feel uneasy? What did you learn from that experience?
2. When that happened, how did it affect the entire group?
3. If you have ever been that “bone out of joint,” did you later apologize and ask for forgiveness? If not, don’t you think it’s time that you went back to those who were involved and make things right?