Billy Graham & the Question God Will Never Ask

Text: Matthew 25:14-30

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” Matthew 25:21

This past week our world lost a faithful lamp. The Reverend Billy Graham, known as “America’s Pastor,” passed away in his Montreat, North Carolina, home. He was 99-years old.

The Gallup organization, which releases a yearly survey of the “Ten Most Admired Men in the World,” named Graham the dominant figure in that poll over the past half century—he was included 42 times, including 35 consecutive years. The famed evangelist appeared on the covers of Time, Newsweek, Life, U.S. News and World Report, Parade. In his lifelong ministry, the son of a dairy farmer preached to more than 210 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. His book “Peace With God” reached millions in 38 different languages. He had personal audiences with many sitting US presidents from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama. The United States Postal Service has said that Graham was one of the few Americans who could have mail delivered that simply reads his name and the country: “Billy Graham, America.”

In 1996, Graham was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow on a private citizen. Even his adversaries and skeptics have recognized that this country-boy-turned-worldwide-gospel-ambassador lived his life in such a way to only hear the applause of One. An early contemporary and friend of Graham, Charles Templeton, after abandoning the Christian faith said: “There is no feigning in [Billy Graham]: he believes what he believes with an invincible innocence. He is the only mass evangelist I would trust.”

Graham seemed to live his entire life with a laser focus on one day hearing the words I’m sure became more than audible last Wednesday:

“Well done, good and faithful servant!”

There is nothing else worth living for. Success, achievement, ambition, fame—even benevolence and altruism; apart from God’s pleasure is a chasing after the wind. Nothing in the entire world can compare with coming to the end of our days and hearing those words of our Master: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Living for those words gives us an inviolable peace in our hearts, an indomitable love for our enemies and skeptics, certainty in troubled times, and an unadulterated devotion to the ONE we live and breathe to worship.

Oftentimes when one lamp goes out, the world feels a little darker. But we need to remember that God is faithful in every generation. The Lord is never going to ask you: Were you as influential as Billy Graham? He’s not measuring your devotion next to that of anyone else—He’s measuring your devotion by the faithfulness you show in those small things right in front of you (Matthew 25:21). Though you and I may never be mass evangelists, our little lamps matter just as much as Billy’s did—in the way we parent, treat our spouses, love our neighbors, serve the less fortunate, or practice integrity in the workplace. May our labor of love be driven by the anticipation of one day hearing those words of eternal sustenance: Well done, good and faithful servant!

Jesus has some encouraging words for those who live from that center: “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23 NIV) Or as one translation rendered it, “Well done… Let’s celebrate together!”

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, we mourn the loss of a great hero of the faith. As it did in life, may Graham’s legacy in death also inspire many others to fight the good fight, love their enemies, pray for their critics, and live for the pleasure of One. Help us to see the small things in our daily walk as opportunities to practice great faithfulness. Help us to approach the little things with big love. In doing so, our lights will shine brighter than we could’ve ever imagined. Teach us how to live our lives in such a way as to one day hear those words: Well done, good and faithful servant. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. If you were to go away for a long time, who would you entrust to look after your things and why?
  2. How would you define the word “faithfulness”?
  3. In Matthew 25:14-30, why do you think the man in the story entrusted his servants different amounts? What were the master’s expectations of his servants while he was away?
  4. Why was the master so hard on the servant who hid what was entrusted to him? Does this seem harsh to you? Why or why not?
  5. In what way do you think you could better use something that God has given you to further the kingdom of heaven on earth?

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