Once again, we’re paying a return visit to Sunny Shell who blogs at Abandoned to Christ. To read this at source — with a longer introduction — click the title below.
The condensed version of, “I told you this would happen, but you wouldn’t listen.” is, “I told you so.” It’s been ingrained in me and I think, most, if not all of you, that saying “I told you so” is wrong. It’s considered to be harsh, inconsiderate, unkind, jabbing; and therefore, the most unloving and graceless thing to say to anyone after they’ve neglected to heed wise counsel, and find themselves in an unsavory and often, painful situation…
…Saying “I told you so” after someone has suffered the consequences of their foolishness, is usually a brazen “in your face” kind of statement people say in order to lord over another person’s failings. And that’s just flat out cruel. However, that doesn’t mean we can, nor should assume that everyone who says “I told you so” is being cruel or arrogant. As a matter of fact, they may be saying it out of deep empathy, compassion, love and mercy for the person they’re saying it to. Yes, I said mercy.
It may seem strange for you to reconsider that saying “I told you so” may perhaps not be the wrong, but rather, the right, good, and most helpful thing to say when someone is sitting in the miry pit of their indiscretions. So allow me to share a few real-life, biblical examples of where the person saying “I told you so” is genuinely being kind, merciful and encouraging (that is, instilling courage) into the person they’re saying it to.
“And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.
“And the LORD said to me, ‘Say to them, Do not go up or fight, for I am not in your midst, lest you be defeated before your enemies.’ So I spoke to you, and you would not listen; but you rebelled against the command of the LORD and presumptuously went up into the hill country. Then the Amorites who lived in that hill country came out against you and chased you as bees do and beat you down in Seir as far as Hormah.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’
“saying, ‘Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.’ But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said…Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship…Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, ‘Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.’ Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go.”
Genesis 42:22; Deuteronomy 1:42-44; John 11:40;
Acts 27:10-11, 21, 31-32 (ESV, emphasis mine)
In all these incidences, whether it was Reuben, Moses, the Lord Jesus Christ, or the Apostle Paul telling the hearers, “I told you so” was said not to lord it over them, but in order to mercifully and lovingly remind the hearers of the painful calamities that happened the first time they didn’t heed wise counsel. In such cases, “I told you so” was said not to injure the one being told, but in order to shield them from repeating the same foolishness; and thereby, be spared the same pain or worse, due to their rebellious heart.
“Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.’ “
This is not to say that hardships only come upon us because we sin (we know this because of John 9:3), but in the above verse (John 5:14) we see clearly that Jesus confirms what God reveals throughout the Old and New Testaments: sin devastates, divides and decays our relationships, our jobs—our lives. And in the case of this man that Jesus healed at Bethesda, according to Christ, this man’s 38 years of being an invalid was the direct effect of his sin. Which is why we can readily conclude that Jesus’ strong admonition wasn’t “kicking someone when their down” but it was a merciful reminder of the destructive and painful consequences of sin.
Therefore, though it’s most widely understood that saying “I told you so” is unkind and unloving, we see here, that once again, the heart in which we do or say things (Ps 141:3-5; Mt 15:18-19) should alone be the determining factor of whether or not it was loving or unloving, kind or unkind.