Vol.XVI No.XI Pg.3
January 1980

The Must Concept

Dan S. Shipley

One thing that characterized the ministry of Jesus was His abiding sense of responsibility. Nowhere is that disposition better exemplified than in His remarkable statement of Jn. 9:4: "We must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work". At this time the night of the cross was about six months away. So little time! So much work to be done! As Jesus saw it, the issue was clear: "WE MUST WORK WHILE WE CAN!" — and His followers must see it that way too.

The must concept is sorely missing today. Somewhere down the line we seem to have lost something of our sense of obligation. Back before the current and popular attitudes of "so what?" and "who cares? responsibility was a thing to be taken seriously by most. Today, however, it is not unusual to see weighty obligations being lightly treated.

Take the casual attitude with which many enter into marriage, for example. Instead of the determination that says, "it must work! or "we'll make it work! divorce is treated as a practical option from the very beginning. With such thinking, it is not surprising to see so many exercising the "option". Even in marriages that continue in conflict, there is often a reluctance for one or both to face up to their God-given "musts". Until wives learn the must-nature of subjection and all that it involves; until husbands learn the must-nature of love and all that it involves, the marriage can never be successful according to the divine standard (Eph. 5:22-23). The must concept is likewise needful in the serious business of rearing children for heaven. Many will readily acknowledge what they "should" or "ought" to do in this regard, but how many really see it as an unqualified MUST? Obedience and respect must be required, discipline must be administered, and a Godly example must be lived before children if their bringing-up is to be "in the Lord", Eph. 6:1-4. We may rationalize and excuse ourselves for doing less but the results will surely be reflected where it hurts the most — in the spiritual welfare of our children.

When Jesus says, "We must work", he surely includes all those who make serious claim to being his followers. As Jesus had God-given work to do, so do we. And it is no less important for us to do the will of God in our sphere than it was for Him in His. We must quit the practice of a religion that is controlled and manipulated by every circumstance and situation that happens along. Something is drastically wrong in the life of a Christian who subordinates doing God's work to practically everything else. It needs to be reversed; it needs the must concept that subordinates all else to serving God! That's the way it was with the early Christians. After being warned, "not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus". Peter and John replied, "We cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard" (Acts 4:18-20). Later, they said, "We MUST obey God rather than men" (5:29). May God help us to develop such a concept in serving Him. Not, "MUST I?", but "I MUST!"