Summary: A message to men about how to leave a legacy to your children, illustrated from the life of Billy Graham.

A Godly Legacy: A Tribute to Billy Graham

Chuck Sligh

March 4, 2018

NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation is available for this sermon by request at

TEXT: Proverbs 13:22 - "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just."


Friday was the funeral for the Evangelist Billy Graham, who died on February 21. I watched a couple of his crusades on TV as I was growing up and have heard a number of his sermons on tape. I told Susan that there are only a handful of people who are considered the "greatest preachers of all time." Billy Graham was one of them. The Apostle Paul, Chrysostom, Charles Spurgeon, and D.L. Moody are in that rarified pantheon…but none preached or won more people to Christ in their lifetime than Billy Graham. To have lived in a time to be able to hear one of the greatest in history is an privilege.

As I watched the funeral yesterday, something big came into my thoughts. That is the wonderful legacy he left his children. Each of his five adult children shared some personal things about their father. Each of them had struggles earlier in their lives, despite being the progeny of one of the world's greatest preachers; yet each one is now faithfully following Christ.

Why?-Because of the legacy of a true man of God. This morning, I want to talk to you fathers. Ladies, I don't mean to leave you out, and what I will say today applies to you too, but in this day and age, when many men are spiritually A.W.O.L., I feel led to speak to you men especially…about a godly legacy

Our text deals with leaving an inheritance to our children, which is a good thing. But if all you leave your kids is a MATERIAL inheritance without leaving them a SPIRITUAL legacy, they will be impoverished, no matter how large the inheritance.

A legacy is defined as something passed down to the generations that follow us. Men, how can you leave a godly legacy to your children? Let me share three ways with you, illustrated from the life and ministry of Billy Graham.


We live in an age of moral decline, so it seems like godly conduct hardly counts anymore. You can cheat people, cheat on your spouse, drink with abandon, live immorally, curse like a sailor…and hardly anyone cares about it anymore. "Live and let live!"; "Let it all hang out!"; "Do your own thing!"-Those are the mantra of our increasingly amoral society.

Sadly, this general lack of emphasis on godly conduct has crept into our Christian churches. The conduct of believers is sometimes hardly distinguishable from that of those in the world today. That's a blight on the testimony of our Lord.

One of the things that stood out in Dr. Graham's legacy was the godliness of his conduct.

1. For instance, he not only did not have sex before he was married, he never kissed his wife until their wedding! - And they had a wonderful marriage, a romance that lasted until her death in 2007.

2. Early in his ministry he set up a set of rules for him and his staff.

One was called "The Billy Graham" rule. Here's how Billy described it: "We pledged among ourselves to avoid any situation that would have even the appearance of compromise or suspicion. From that day on, I did not travel, meet or eat alone with a woman other than my wife."

That seems quaint today. Vice President Pence, a vibrant Christian, said that he followed the same rule and CNN and MSNBC mocked and ridiculed him. But a Christian with integrity is wise to be careful to avoid sexual temptation and any appearance of doing something considered morally objectionable.

3. It wasn't just sexual morality Billy Graham was concerned about: In the wake the scandals of TV evangelists in the 80s and 90s, Dr. Graham promoted a consortium of churches and Christian organizations that pledged to shun the excesses of the TV charlatans, and to exercise a set of transparent and honest financial practices that brought glory to God, demonstrated integrity and avoided scandal.

Peter teaches us in 2 Peter 1:5 - "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue (which means "moral excellence")…"

In Ephesians 4:1, Paul says, "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation [calling] wherewith ye are called."

Paul tells us why we should do this in Philippians 2:15 - "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."

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