When I learned of the late Reverend Billy Graham’s death, a weightiness settled over me. Billy Graham exemplified a human being who stood secure in who he was in Christ. He was never proud nor arrogant despite his heavenly lineage, nor did he wallow in low self-esteem or pity, thinking he deserved less than the cross afforded him as his inheritance.
Reverend Billy Graham stood for truth
While I am sure that Reverend Graham had his faults, as we all do, he could be recognized as a man who walked his talk, shared his faith without apology, and lived without regrets because he faced each new day as a fresh opportunity to serve his risen Savior. Reverend Graham didn’t cave under scrutiny, nor compromise his values or Biblical truth in order to say what was popular. Rather, he stood for truth.
Reverend Graham impacted the world in a positive way. He searched the Scriptures for spiritual direction, while reminding us where our strength resides. He exemplified grace, compassion, and love, never judging anyone, but rather, seeing everyone through Christ’s eyes. He never stood for religion, but rather, encouraged a personal relationship with a living God. He challenged us to each be salt and light in this world.
One commenter threw stones at Billy Graham
Shortly following Reverend Graham’s death, every news report and social media post shared information regarding his death, memorial services, and the impact of his life. For some reason, one comment stood out to me more than all the rest. This individual stated, “I was saddened to learn that Rev. Graham was human and imperfect.” The individual was referring to a ministry decision Reverend Graham made not to work directly with Reverend Martin Luther King. Yet there was no mention of the fact that Reverend Graham desegregated his revivals and sought to bring men of all races together through the love of the gospel.
None of us are perfect
The comment cut deep. There has never been anyone before or since Jesus who could be found perfect and without sin. While Reverend Graham had sin in his life, there were also times he confessed this publicly with a repentant heart. He never claimed to be perfect or anything other than human.
So for one to be “saddened to learn” that he was “human and imperfect” seems to me to set someone up for a fall. Scripture says there is none who is righteous, not one.
If finding out that Billy Graham was human and imperfect was disappointing, I must confess, I will likely disappoint you on a daily basis. While I try to live a sin-free life, I’m not perfect. I fall down. I make mistakes. And I’m usually the first one to draw that into the light. I am human, I am imperfect, and Jesus came for precisely that reason.
While I did not know, nor had ever heard of the individual who made the comment, that can only mean they have not had nearly the same impact for the kingdom and the gospel of Jesus Christ that Reverend Graham has had. Reverend Graham has brought more people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ than any other human being I can think of, and his life and death have fostered my deep desire to do more for the kingdom while I have a chance.
Let the one with no sin cast the first stone
The sharp comment against such an upstanding individual like Reverend Graham made me think of the story in the Bible when men were eager to stone a woman caught in adultery. Yet Jesus basically said, “Mind your own business. Do what you need to do and don’t worry yourself throwing stones at someone else until your own heart is pure.” He told the men who were so eager to stone the woman that whoever was without sin in their own life could cast the first stone. But that would first require self-examination, and accountability. Very few would do this, out of fear of what the consequences would be for themselves. One by one each turned away.
Throwing stones at someone like Billy Graham who has had such a tremendous impact for the kingdom, and is known across generations and cultures, is surely akin to casting the first stone. My own life is filled with enough that I must regularly repent of to be concerned with what someone like Billy Graham did wrong. My desire, instead, is to learn from his example and to do my part in sharing the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I’m so grateful that Jesus didn’t throw stones, but instead hung on a cross so that I could be offered forgiveness, mercy, and grace instead of judgment and condemnation.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
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