Not really, Lord. I’m doing all right.
“I Mean YOU!” The message comes from another direction.
“I mean YOU!” Again and again. Over and over.
That’s the way God dealt with Israel. And if we are alert, we will see that is how He is dealing with us. One opportunity after another, after another. And another. And another.
Because we don’t change!
How long will He persist? How long will He continue until He says, “Time’s UP!”?
We all have this built-in tendency to excuse ourselves. We feel even triumphant, telling ourselves, “That’s the way I am!”
Some years ago when we were traveling in the south, we came to a highway construction area. The sign said “SLOW DOWN.” Now they say “double fines” for speeding in construction areas. That time they communicated with a graphic. It was the picture of a fist, with the forefinger pointed straight at the driver. Under it were the words, “I MEAN YOU.”
Or we want to blame someone else. “It’s not MY problem.” Or, “I’m NOT the cause!” Or, “If only HE wouldn’t be so unreasonable…” Or, “If only SHE could make up her mind!…” Or, “If only THEY could see it the way I do!
Of course I have the answer! So simple, if they would only listen to ME and do it MY way. (Is there possibly a touch of pride here?).
Yes, it could have been all DONE by now! (Do we even know the WHOLE situation? Maybe we realize what THEY are up against?)
This is where we need to get outside ourselves and hear the Lord saying, “No, the problem isn’t HE, or SHE, or THEY, or THEM. I mean YOU.”
This is what God said to Abraham in words unmistakable.
1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.
Who was speaking? “I am Almighty God.”
And what did He say? “YOU walk before Me, YOU be blameless.”
Jesus said no less. After a long list of climbing commands, He made one summary statement:
Matthew 5:48 48Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
“YOU be perfect”–I mean YOU.
It was God’s law spoken through Moses:
Deuteronomy 4:9 9Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;
The REB is right to the point:
Deuteronomy 4:9 (REB) 9But take care: keep careful watch on yourselves so that you do not forget the things that you have seen with your own eyes; do not let them pass from your minds as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.
In other words, I mean YOU.
YOU be careful; YOU watch. Don’t forget.
Moses said it again:
Deuteronomy 32:45–47 45Moses finished speaking all these words to all Israel,
46and he said to them: “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law.
47For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life…
YOU set YOUR heart–it is for YOUR LIFE!
It is the “watch” command of Jesus:
Mark 13:35–37 35Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
36Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
37And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
Yes, I mean YOU.
Could words be aimed more directly to us personally, we who live so near to the time of His return? What is He saying? I mean YOU.
Yes, there IS a possibility He will come and find you and me sleeping.
Again and again He repeated it. Read it in Luke 21:
Luke 21:34–36 34“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
YOU watch, that YOU may stand.
That “snare” is literally pagis, a trap. It is “a device used to catch animals, trap, snare.”
36Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Again, He says, “I mean YOU.”
YOU want to stand? Then YOU must watch.
This was Paul’s attitude. Though he spent much of his time preaching to others, he preached FIRST to himself. He said,
1 Corinthians 9:26–27 26Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
He took his message as saying, “I mean YOU! Meaning himself..
The passage is good from the New Living Translation:
1 Corinthians 9:26–27 (NLT) 26So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.
Well he knew that the runner in the race most proficient in instructing others could not obtain the prize unless he himself ran. So Paul was running, full force,
…lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
For the same reason he told his son-in-the faith Timothy to first see to his own salvation, then that of his hearers. There is a godly selfishness here.
1 Timothy 4:16 (NLT) 16Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.
Keep watch. Stay true, because “I mean YOU.”
A motivational speaker was invited to address a group of disadvantaged young persons. He planned very carefully what he wanted to say, but was still uncertain even when the time had all but arrived for him to speak. He spoke to the attendant. Should he avoid saying anything at all direct?
“No worries,” replied the attendant. “They are just like the rest of us. If they don’t like what you say, they’ll just figure you are talking to somebody else.”
This may have been the way David was thinking when the prophet Nathan came to him and told his little heart-touching story. A certain rich man took the poor man’s only ewe lamb? How awful! Heartless! Cruel! But before Nathan left, David felt the full force of the message: “I mean YOU.”
In plainest words: “You are the man!”
We are in such mortal danger of missing the message, the message God intended for ME! Because it fits someone else so much better!
It is a big moral umbrella, but we do best to fold it up and let our heads get wet!
David’s prayer of penitence, recorded in Psalm 51, shows how deeply his tender heart was impressed when the lesson finally got through to him. Notice his personal confession and his all-out plea for forgiveness from his merciful, long-suffering God.
Psalm 51:1–3 1Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.
2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. 3For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me….
7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow…
9Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. 10Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 16For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.
17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.
Think of the reality of “I mean YOU” when it comes time to dispense the rewards! Then we will want to hear “I mean YOU” because it will mean we have been singled out for the prize! Yes, we WON it! Think of knowing that henceforth our lives will be free from disappointment, sorrow, pain and trial, and that pleasures and joy beyond our fondest imagination shall increase forever!
When Christ names the winners, we will want to hear, “I mean YOU!”