Just as we can learn from historical biblical figures like Paul and David, we can also learn much from servants of God in our time who have lived faithful and dedicated lives for Christ. Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1), and “Follow the way of love” (1 Corinthians 14:1). I think about Billy Graham when I read these two powerful challenges, and I think about the many things we can all learn from his godly and faithful example.
First, make pleasing God the highest goal in your lives. The Bible teaches us to please God rather than ourselves (John 5:30; John 8:29; Acts 5:29). Paul said that while we are here in the body, our goal should be to please God (2 Corinthians 5:9), and we need to find out what pleases him (Ephesians 5:10). Ruth Graham stated that Billy Graham wanted to please Jesus more than any person she had ever met.
Second, stay humble no matter what does or does not happen in life because Jesus deserves the glory. This man of God preached to over 200 million people and won millions to the Lord, and yet when he was visiting with Kathy Lee Gifford to read the Christmas story to her children for a television special, all he wanted was a Big Mac from McDonalds. Success in life and ministry should increase humility not arrogance, because God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Like Paul, and Billy Graham, we should have the same mind and practice as Christ (Philippians 2:1-8).
Third, stick to your call despite pressure and influence to deviate from that call. Billy was enticed through the years with business opportunities and political opportunities, but would always turn them down saying that any step away from the gospel would be a step down and a demotion. As Paul was called to the gentiles, and Peter was called to the Jews (Galatians 2:8), Billy Graham knew he was called to the lost billions of the world. He showed us how important it is to stay on your course and finish it (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Fourth, live a life of purity and integrity because the presence of impurity is the seed of your destruction. Billy Graham created the “Pence Rule” or the personal conviction not to ride in a car or be in a room by himself with a member of the opposite sex. Vice-President Mike Pence adopted this rule for his life and was ridiculed severely for it, that is until the onslaught of sexual harassment allegations in the news today. Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright guides them.” We are called to purity (1 Thessalonians 4:7), commanded to abstain from even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22), and told we should not even have a hint of immorality in our lives (Ephesians 5:3).
Finally, speak the truth in love because some speak the truth without love, and some, appealing to a false construct of love, fail to speak the truth (Ephesians 4:15). Billy Graham took sin seriously painting clearly its destructive power on lives and society. He also took redemption seriously and shared the way out of sin, Jesus. He prayed with every President since Eisenhower and challenged each with the truth of the gospel. We learn from Dr. Graham that we need the right manner for this most perfect message. Billy Graham said it best when he said, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”