Has someone ever said to you, “I told you”? Why? How did you feel? Today we are going to look at these words and come to a conclusion whether it is right or not that we should bring ourselves to a situation where someone would or could say to us, “I told you”.
“I told you” imports or connotes blame on the one to whom it is said. It is another way of saying something like these: “I told you but you would not listen”, “If you had listened to me, it would not have happened”, “If you had listened to me, you will not be regretting now” and so on.
When these words are said to someone, it pierces the heart and makes the addressee cry in regret, particularly if they are repentant of their action that led to those words being said to him or her.
Of course, the words can only be said to those who have ears but would not listen or hear, in short, those human beings who are as stubborn as a housefly that would always follow the corpse to the grave.
It may be good to kick start this discourse with the story of Lot, Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible says that the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord (Gen. 13:13), just like we are today in this nation. The outcry against the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah reached the highest heaven and the Lord decided to go down to see whether what were said about them were true or false (Gen. 18:20-21). What a just God! Even though He is an all knowing God, He would always want to satisfy Himself before acting. He did that when Adam and Eve disobeyed Him. He decided to give them a fair-hearing before punishing them (Gen. 3:9-19). When Cain killed his brother Abel, He also gave him opportunity to defend himself or say where his brother was (Gen. 4:8-12). On this occasion, He also decided to go down and see things for Himself in Sodom and Gomorrah. When He confirmed this, He decided to completely destroy the two evil cities. However, that is not the end of the story. It is just the beginning!
Before unleashing His wrath on those two cities, Lot found favour in His eyes because he refused to be associated with the lust of evil majority and was rather hell-bent on protecting his guests, total strangers to him whom he had received into his house. Those “unknown strangers” turned out to be angels of the Lord. Those angels disclosed to him their mission to destroy the twin cities, but warned him to take out anyone he had in those cities. The Bible says that Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law but to them, he seemed to be joking (Gen. 19:12-14). So, when the Lord rained fire and brimstone on those cities, Lot’s sons-in-law were consumed. What am I then saying?
What I am saying is that if those his sons-in-law were to come back to life after their death, Lot would have said to them, “I told you, but you would not listen.”
Unfortunately, it is often difficult to turn the hands of the clock back when one dies, except it is a miracle. The only opportunity one has to listen to good advice is before the oil spills. If out of one’s stubbornness the oil spills, then, it is not possible to gather it again! I am sure Lot’s sons-in-law would have regretted as they were dying for their failure to listen to him. I am also sure that they would have regretted the more if they were to come back to life again!
Besides the fact that Lot would have said “I told you” to his sons-in-law, he would have had another “you were told” to say, this time to his wife. You will recall that when they were told to escape for their lives, they were also told not to look back (Gen. 19:17). What did Lot’s wife do? She looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. You know, the way we disobey God these days, many of us ought to have been turned into pillars of salt long time ago. But the Lord has in His mercy spared us, by the intervention and intercession of the Christ. Unfortunately, we do not show gratitude for His mercy. We do not show repentance from our disobedience to His commands and our general sins against Him. Well, what I was saying is that if Lot’s wife were to have been restored to life, Lot would have surely said to her, “But you were told”.
Looking through the Bible I wonder how many people today to whom it would have been said, “I told you”. For instance, when what happened to Pharaoh and his chariots men took place at the Red Sea, Moses would have said to Pharaoh if he had come back to life again, “I told you to Let God’s people go and worship their Lord” (Ex. 14).
Again, David would have told Goliath, “I told you that this day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I will strike you and take your head from you.… that all the earth may know there is a God in Israel” (1 Sam. 17:46).
I am sure you remember the event that occurred between the prophet of Judah and Jeroboam. The prophet prophesied the truth to him but he would not listen. Instead he stretched out his hand to order his arrest but the hand he had stretched out withered. Then, “the altar split apart, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord”. Jeroboam started begging him to entreat the Lord to restore his hand (1 ki. 13:1-6). Even though this was a proper occasion for the prophet to say ”I told you”, he nevertheless, entreated the Lord and Jeroboam’s hand was restored.
The contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel would have been a good occasion for Elijah to say to Ahab, “ I told you but you would not listen that you worshipped a toothless god, a mere mirage conjectured by men in their wildest imagination ! I told you that Baal could not hear even though it had ears, that it was powerful, so powerless that it could not even save his own prophets from being executed (1 ki. 18).”
The king of Israel (Ahab) refused to listen to the prophecy of Micaiah and that led to his death. He put Micaiah in the prison. If he had the opportunity of coming back to life again, Micaiah would have said to him, “I told you”.
There are so many other examples we can take from the Bible but I will like us to take a look at some of the contemporary things that happen among us, starting with the family.
Many families have broken down today because either the husband or the wife refused to listen to good counsel. I know of a man who came crying to his friend that marrying his wife was the greatest mistake in his life. That was a marriage that did not receive the blessing of anyone in the family of the man and among his friends. Everyone knew the antecedents of the lady he took as his wife. He rejected every good advice, even the one from that his friend, and claimed that love was blind, even though he was the one that was blind. When the marriage became too hot for him, he started running up and down for someone to rescue him. His friend said to him, “I told you”. Of course, that marriage ended up dissolved in a law Court.
I also know a lady who kept crying that she never got married. Each time he cried, her mother would say to her, “I told you. I told when you were jumping from one man to the other that time waits for no one. I told you that everything that glitters is not gold, but you would not listen”. And she would cry the more!
Again, another lady became pregnant but could not hold on anyone as the one responsible for it. She pointed at four men as those who were responsible for her pregnancy but each of them denied it. At a meeting between her family and the family of the last man she accused, it was discovered she had relationship with many other persons. When her parents stood up in shame to go, her mother pulled her by the ear and said to her, “I told you.”
Many students have failed in their examinations because they refused to listen to their teachers. Many people have failed in governance because they preferred the counsel of the wicked and sycophants to the counsel of the just and wise. Some have failed in business because they listened to the wrong advice and took the wrong steps. Many are regretting the many steps they took in life and many mistakes they made in life, and someone out there is saying to them, “I told you”.
I do not know what you have done in the past for which someone has said to you, “I told you”. I do not know what you are doing now for which someone will say to you, “I told you”. How long will you continue to do those things for which someone will say to you, “I told you”? What I want you to know is that if the ear refuses to listen to sound advice, when the head will be cut off for the consequences of that refusal, the ear will not be spared. It would be cut off with the head. It is on this note that I want to remind us of a very important thing.
What I want to remind us is that heaven is real and hell is real. We have heard this over and over again but we have not shown as much seriousness to them as we ought to. The world is still full of iniquities. Evil men are all over the place. We have failed to listen to the prophets of God. In some cases, we have blackmailed and killed the servants of God. We have continued to do those things which we ought not to do and have chosen to leave undone those things which we ought to have done. This is notwithstanding the fact that the wages of sin is death and the fact that Christ will come a second time, at a time unknown to us, maybe today, tomorrow or the next. This is notwithstanding the fact that we know that the obvious lot or portion of a sinner is eternal sojourn or damnation in hell.
Brethren, I want us to do a good thinking. What will God say to you if you end up in hell on the last day? What will He say to you after giving us the ten commandments? What will He say after He has spoken to us through His prophets? What will He say after sending His only son to die shamefully on the cross for us? What will He say after we refuse to listen to His prophets among us? I think the answer to these questions are obvious. He would say, “I told you”. May this never be our portion in Jesus’ name. Amen.
In the final analysis, I want to advice that it is wrong to do or indulge in anything that will make someone say to us “I told you”. Let us avoid making any of our pastors, friends, relations, followers or even our spouse say to us, “I told you”. Most importantly, let us avoid anything that will make God say to us on the last day, “I told you”.