Imagine that you’re relaxing by the pool on a warm summer afternoon. You’re watching a child play when suddenly the smile vanishes from his face. He’s no longer splashing and having fun. He’s thrashing in terror. He drifted into the deep end, and he can’t swim. He’s drowning.
What would you do next?
Option One: Run inside, grab a copy of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Swimming,” and bring it to the pool and throw it to the child so he can learn how to swim.
Option Two: Yell at the child, “You should really stop drowning! You’ll die if you don’t quit that! Start swimming!”
Option Three: Jump in the pool and carry the child to safety.
Option Four: Do nothing and watch.
Which option did you choose?
If you anything but number three, never offer to babysit our kids!
There are scenarios in which each of the options might be correct.
There are times that we need instruction. “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Swimming” might have been useful to prevent this situation, but in the moment of panic, it is totally useless.
There are times we need correction. A reminder of the consequences of our actions can be really helpful. But once we’re in over our heads, it serves as little more than a self-righteous “I told you so.”
There are times when we sit by and let people learn lessons from the natural consequences of their actions. This story isn’t one of those times, the stakes are too high.
Sometimes, the only option is to jump into the mess and pick someone up and hold them.
It can be messy, dangerous, and hard, but sometimes that’s the only way. Jude says that some people need a gentle act of mercy, but we “save others by snatching them out of the fire” (Jude 1:23).
When people around you are drowning—spiritually, emotionally, financially, relationally—make sure to help in a helpful way.