Supplies: Bible, paper, markers or pen
Some words are wonderful to hear. “I love you.” “Merry Christmas!” “Yes, you may open all of your birthday presents and eat the whole cake yourself.” (Ok, maybe that last one is just me.) Likewise, there are some words that are just delightful to say. Of all the choices, one of the sweetest phrases is, “I told you so.” (ITYS) Oh, how we loooooove to say those four words back-to-back! We feel superior in just about every way when we have earned the right to point out that we were correct in our predictions while someone else close to us was wrong.
Can you think of a time when you were involved in an ITYS situation? Maybe you got to say the words, or maybe you had to hear them instead. (Ouch!) Share the circumstances with your family and how you felt when those words were spoken.
Read Genesis 42:1-28 together as a family.
If ever there was a well-deserved ITYS moment, it was here with Joseph and his brothers. After 13 grueling, tortuous years, God finally delivers on the vision He gave Joseph as a teenager. Like the shocks of wheat from his dream, Joseph watches as his ten older brothers all bow before him. I can only imagine how that must have made the governor feel. If it were me, my brain would be screaming things like, “You had no use for me when I was a child, but now you come to me begging on your hands and knees. Why does this look familiar? You thought my dreams were a joke. Who’s laughing now?!” Maybe Joseph was having the same witty conversation in his head, but if so, he never let it out of his lips. He squelched any desire to fling around his hard-earned ITYS, and just let God do the teaching. (As we’ll see in the next few weeks, God’s approach taught those boys way more than an ITYS ever would have.)
It can be so hard to hold back our words when we feel like we’ve earned the right to say ITYS. It’s almost like we’re gagging on the letters, they are that powerful. But the reality is, as fun as those words are to say, they have almost no impact on the people they’re directed to. Let’s face it: they already know they were wrong and we were right. Saying the words only tears them down more, and that’s not what God wants. We can be a lot more effective and a lot more like Jesus when we show grace and mercy by NOT rubbing our right-ness in their face and let God do the correcting on our behalf. I’ve found in my own life that the times I’ve held back my ITYS the end result has been a lot more transforming for my “opponent,” just like we’ll see in Joseph’s brothers.
As a family, why don’t you choose to model this approach by embracing a “No ITYS” policy in your home? Take a piece of paper and design a sign that states that this house is a place where grace and mercy reign—a No ITYS Zone. Allow family members to hold each other accountable to NOT point out who was right and who was wrong. You might even choose to add a penalty for flinging around an ITYS, like the one who says it has to do an extra chore for the person to whom it was said. Imagine: we could start a whole new grace & mercy trend in Bloomington/Normal. What we begin to reinforce at home will eventually spread to our workplaces, our schools, our other relationships, etc. Don’t believe me? Well, when you see it happen, I promise not to say, “I told you so.”
Sweet Jesus, thank You for Your incredible gift of grace. Without Your sacrifice, we would truly be nothing. Help us to carry Your grace and mercy into our relationships, Lord. Remove that desire to wield our “rightness” like a weapon of justice, reminding other just how wrong they are. The only right we truly know is You. That’s enough! In Your Holy Name we pray, Amen.
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