Every life has a story. Every person makes some kind of impact on others. Over the years in ministry, families have approached me when a loved one was close to death and have asked me to talk with their relative related to eternity. Essentially I have been asked, “Would you please see if my relative is ready for eternity?” It has been my privilege to run those eternal errands and have those conversations. However, Billy Graham’s death reminds us of what is so much better: live today so that no one will ever have to wonder about your eternity.
As a professor of biblical counseling for nearly twenty years, I have taught self-reflection as a matter of daily living and daily discipline; the process known as self-counsel. This process includes taking the truths of God’s Word and carefully considering your own heart and life in relationship to their teaching. We each must learn to ask key questions to ourselves in order to live a life that honors God. In relationship to your life story and impact on others, the ultimate question is, “What kind of impact will you make?” When your life is over, what kind of life will you have lived?
Five verses help describe the life and impact of Billy Graham and provide me with a deep personal challenge to also live a Christlike life that honors and pleases God.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Billy Graham understood and proclaimed the love of God as demonstrated in the life, death, resurrection, and offer of eternal life through Jesus. You can’t read much about Billy Graham or his life without coming across this verse. He experienced God’s love and wanted everyone he knew to experience that love as well.
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
Person after person have described Billy Graham as an old humble country preacher. Although he preached to millions, walked with presidents, kings, queens, and other dignitaries, and had a world-wide ministry, Billy Graham remained humble. The testimony of his life is one marked by incredible humility.
1 Timothy 4:16
Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
Billy Graham lived a life of utmost integrity. No asterisks. No “except for…” No unanswered questions. They didn’t exist. One person wrote, “He maintained absolute marital fidelity and moral and financial integrity. He was an evangelist who lived the way he preached.” In the end, his life and ministry reflect Christ and he did not hurt anyone else’s life along the path because of his poor testimony. May God be praised.
1 John 2:15
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Billy Graham’s life is marked by a simple public message, “Receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior for the forgiveness of your sins.” He is not known for his riches, his extravagant lifestyle, his automobiles and planes, or anything else in these categories. He lived in a modest log cabin in the mountains of North Carolina. It was there where he and his wife Ruth raised their children, and where they retired together after decades in ministry.
2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
The public testimony of Billy Graham fits well the stated testimony of the Apostle Paul to Timothy as he neared the end of his life. What incredible words. What an incredible testimony. How fitting for this imperfect man who allowed God to use him to spread the wonderful Gospel of Jesus Christ to millions. To God be the glory!
What about you?
What does Billy Graham’s life teach you? What life lesson can you learn? How can you be challenged?
As a husband, father, pastor, and professor, may Billy Graham’s life be another challenge for me to live the kind of life that exalts Jesus Christ, focuses on the gospel, and brings all honor and glory to God.
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