Is saying, "I told you so," a sin?

I’ve gotten some varying opinions on this. Is it wrong to tell someone, “I told you so?” after they ignore your advice/warning and then suffer serious consequences? What if the person is about to ignore you again and, therefore, about to suffer another calamity? I’ve talked to a few people about this and about half think it’s gloating and a sin of pride while others feel it’s a valid admonition, especially if it could stop the person from getting into trouble again.

It’s not right because it sets you up as the moral authority.
The fact that an action didn’t turn out well, or backfired is admonishment enough.
Rubbing salt in the wound is not charitable.
Pray for the person. Don’t add to their pain.
Some people learn from their mistakes, others not so much. But it’s not YOUR worry.


Whether you want to call it a sin or not, it isn’t nice at all and make you out to be a snob.

If it’s not a sin, then it is at least an imperfection and fault.

I do it sometimes, but it reflects inordinate self-love and probably a little pride, too.


Great-Grandma had a saying… “We do not take pleasure in other people’s misery, God made us to help them thru it!”

But what if they’re on the verge of facing the exact same consequences and refuse to change their course after specifically told you that you don’t know any better?

Don’t cast your Pearls before swine. If they will be convicted, it’s gong to be by grace.

You can pray that their eyes are opened.
But that’s it.
Are you expecting them to thank you? So say, oh wow, Gordon, you saved us?
Not a good motivation. :tsktsk:
Prayers are effective. Unsolicited advice?
Not so much.

The pressure that an advisor puts on the person could actually make things worse because of reactance (

Advising tends to be successful only when there is trust between the two parties.
If that trust doesn’t exist, there is going to be some battle of wills involved, which can have negative consequences for the person in trouble (or for both persons involved).

Basically, if there is no mutual trust, advising someone could get that troubled person into even more trouble.

It could be a completely valid reprimand.
“You didn’t make sure the gun was unloaded, and now someone is dead. I told you so, but you just don’t seem to listen.”

Not looking for thanks, just to avoid them falling into another bad situation. This is someone who takes circumstances like these very hard and has had issues with depression in the past. They’re in a state of denial over these current issues. Anything I say could very well be ignored or viewed as a lie. On the other hand, I have a couple old emails and letters that would give a lot more weight to my, “I told you so,” and could possibly get them to realize that their past circumstances weren’t rosy and that they’re headed into the exact same situation that caused them several years of grief before.

It seems you are underestimating the weight of that person’s problem.
Other people’s burdens usually seem easier to carry than one’s own …

It can depend on the situation. If a parent tells a kid that a stove is hot but that kid still insists on finding out for himself, “I told you it was hot”, or “I told you so” Would not be a sin as you were putting an ice pack on the burn.

Sometimes the best way for someone to learn is for you to let them fall on their face. If they did not seek my advice, I would just keep it to myself. There are even those that would rather make their own mistakes than be told the right way to do something.

Good point. In the case pointed out with the children, we as parents/caregivers have an obligation and the “I told you so” is part of the discipline and we have the rightful place of being the moral/ethical authority; however, we as such are not taking any pleasure in the child’s misery so I go back to that statement from my Great-Grand-Ma in that we are not to take pleasure from other’s misfortune. Thus, IMHO, it is simple: if you take any pleasure in saying the “ITYS” to someone then you’ve committed a sin - big or small I make no judgement there as context has a lot to play in it.

and I think this thread has stalled… taking off :takeoff: :choocho:

I’ve been out of sorts and unable to post for a few days. I find it interesting that there’s an assumption that anyone saying “I told you so” is getting some sort of pleasure from it. I know there are plenty that do, but I’d much rather not be in a situation where someone chose to ignore my advice, had it end in disaster, then rushed headlong into the same situation again. So would saying it out of genuine concern with the hopes that the added reminder of my own previous advice and experience still be sinful or inappropriate? In the situation I brought up it’s something of a moot point for now (not worth going into), but for the sake of argument I’m still curious to hear some opinions. Also, is there a good way to say, “I told you so,” without it coming across in a negative way?

One of the things that is probably dwelt on the least is how complex language can actually be. Even among people speaking the same language, there are very small, yet practically if not innumerable differences of understanding with regards basic words and the exact meaning they carry in one place as opposed to another, and a million different tones to say things in, most of which only somebody from the same region will ever notice.

Complicating things further is that some people are courser than others where as some are more gentile. Complicating things ten times more is the circumstance.

It probably falls somewhere into that region. It could be said by somebody who wants to haughtily express that they knew better, and it would probably sound like it. It could be said by somebody who only wants to be annoying, and it would probably come across that way. At the same time, it could also be said by somebody who is genuinely annoyed at what happened, for the sake of the person, and it could come across either severely or said with a sense of mutuality. Whether or not it is a sin will be all to do with the intentions, much like everything else.

Going off topic a little, I ponder to myself, it is usually said that the internet is tone deaf. Actually, the internet seems to have it’s own form of language. We are just so used to it that we rarely think about it!

The answer is still the same.
No. It’s none of your concern. If they don’t follow your advice, you must remember that they are under no obligation to follow your advice.
You are not a spiritual director. You are not a priest.
Your genuine concern is apparently looking very similar to prying to them.
Other wise, they would take it to heart.
It’s not working.
Let it go.
You can’t be their moral authority. Moral decisions come from within. You can’t direct that, as much as you seem to want to. We can’t even do that for our children.
Free will. It’s a real thing.
Saying “I told you so” **is **negative.

What if they come to you for advice? Or if they come to you and tell you about their hardships (time and time again) and, while they don’t explicitly ask for advice, they throw up their arms and say they don’t know what to do? What if it’s your grown, or nearly-grown child?

As far as the spiritual director and priest comments, I think you’re reading a lot more into this than is there. I’m not setting myself up as some sort of moral authority and I’m not prying. The specific situation I was talking about was a situation wherein someone repeatedly told me their hardships and asked for advice dealing with people who are, to be blunt, conniving, manipulative, abusive opportunists…and those are some of their more endearing qualities. I repeatedly pointed this out years ago, was ignored, and this person was devastated. They put themselves in the same situation, started having misgivings and I told them line by line what would happen to them if they didn’t cut and run. They didn’t, and everything I said would happen happened. Now, just like before, the others offered an olive branch, this person accepted, was seeing red flags and asked my opinion via email and voice mail. Before I could respond someone else involved in the situation approached me about it, I said that the best advice I could give is, “yadda, yadda, yadda,” followed up with a reminder that I’d told them this before. That caused the other person to fly off the handle, tell me it was sinful, then drag a bunch of others into the situation which led to a slew of unsolicited and ignorant opinions. Someone else close to the situation approached me and told me what a horrible person I was for even thinking of offering this opinion that I’d been asked for. I agreed to let it rest for a few days but was annoyed by the idea that me reminding this person (someone who’s reluctant to listen to any advice unless you can establish yourself as an authority) that I knew what I was talking about was somehow wrong or sinful. I agree that it’s wrong in certain situations, but I disagree that it would be wrong in this one.

That being said, I think there are times you need to let someone know that you’ve learned from experience and that your experience directly applies to what they’re dealing with. If what they’re dealing with is something you’ve already offered them advice on yet they won’t acknowledge that or have blocked it out in some other way, when they ask you how to handle that specific set of circumstances, do you blow them off and refuse to try to help, or do you approach it in a way that you try to avoid them being hurt? Yes, some people are hopeless, but if there’s a reason to think they might benefit from what you can tell them, how is it wrong to tell them in a way that reminds them that you’ve tread this same road and shared it with them before without coming off as pompous, etc.?

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