What Do You Want Me to Do About It?

Mike Tardive

As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you (John 17:18).” What does this mean? How is this supposed to change my life? Many modern-day parables serve to illustrate forcefully for us what Jesus meant when He made this statement. One such parable came before our young church and helped us to understand more clearly Jesus’ words.

Two young boys were swimming in a local canal, as many of the local kids do in the summer months in Dublin. One boy was 13 and the other was ten; they were best friends. The ten year- old attempted to jump across the canal and fell short. He slipped back in, and apparently his leg got entangled in a shopping cart that had been thrown into the canal. When he failed to come back up from the water, his friend dove into the water to save him. Tragically, the struggling ten-year-old clutched him in a panic, and they drowned in each other’s arms. Our hearts, as well as many in the community, were touched and broken to hear this tragic story. Some of our Sunday school kids were schoolmates of these boys.

What an example this 13-year-old was of our Lord Jesus, who gave Himself unreservedly to save us. As all men “fall short of the glory of God” and remain entangled with sin, men are perishing and living on the verge of a horrific eternal death. But the One who calls us friend left the throne of glory, plunged Himself into this sin-cursed world, and gave His life for us that we might live. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Contrast this with another incident that was in the Dublin newspaper a couple of summers ago. When a family was picnicking at a nearby lake, their five-year-old son waded out into the shallow water in the summer heat. Eventually he waded into a dangerous spot, and it quickly became apparent that he was drowning. None of the family members could swim either, but they all began frantically to do what they could to try to help the perishing boy. It soon became obvious that they needed help, since they did not have what they needed to save him. They spotted a woman nearby who saw what was happening. They desperately ran to her and begged her for help. But they were horrified when she coldly responded, “What do you want me to do about it?” She then hastily got into her car and drove off. This dashed the parents’ last hope, and their little boy drowned. The grieving parents, when discussing the incident later, were devastated by the attitude of the woman. The mother said, “Even if she had given her towel, it might have been a lifeline to my son.”

Many, like the woman in the story, say by their inaction and apathy, “What do you want me to do about it?” Then they continue to do nothing or very little. Maybe this woman felt ashamed later when she thought about what she had not done. It is possible, as she read about herself in the newspaper the next day, that she had deep regret. Perhaps it was out of fear that she did nothing. It could be, had she had to do it all over again, she would have responded differently and done something. But the hard fact remains that when it was time to act, she did nothing, and the boy perished. She did not plunge in the water to save him; she did not give her towel for a lifeline; she did not show any concern as she went about her business.

But the same is true of many Bible-believing Christians. They respond to the fate of the multitudes with, “What do you want me to do about it?” When faithful pastors all across the country preach the clear commands of our Lord, they respond by their inaction, “What do you want me to do about it?” While the untold millions still remain untold, their lives say, “What do you want me to do about it?”

How thankful we are for the many who are like the boy who gave his life attempting to save the one whom he loved. How about you? Which of the above-mentioned people would describe you? Are you plunging in at great cost, like your Savior, to reach the lost? If you are not plunging in, are you giving what God has given you as a lifeline so others can plunge in? Are you, at the very least, showing enough heartfelt concern that you pray every day for the perishing multitudes before you go off about your business? Or will you be like this infamous woman, pretending not to know what to do, and going on your way? It is too late for those who have already perished without the Savior. For the millions who have yet to hear and be saved, the time is now. What will you do?

If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Prov. 24:11, 12).

At the time of original publication, Michael D. Tardive served as a missionary to Ireland.

(Originally published in FrontLine • September/October 2001. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)