Cross Before the Crown - Inspired from Billy Graham

“Some of us want the crown before the cross.”
~ Billy Graham

Many of Billy Graham's sermons stand out to me, but in particular was his poignant observation that so many of us wish to bypass the sacrifice and head straight to the reward. But it cannot be this way; it wasn’t for Jesus, and it certainly is not for us, either.

We want the eternal reward set aside for a Christian, but resist making any changes in our lives that would indicate a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have diluted the command of Jesus to take up our own crosses (Matthew 16:24), to where we have convinced ourselves that attending worship services occasionally meets this standard. Giving God a couple of hours per week seems enough.

But this is wrong. As Billy Graham would famously begin many of his statements, “The Bible says…”, we must recognize that being an authentic Christian means becoming a slave to the Lord Jesus Christ in that He should have preeminence in our heart. Denying ourselves means our will becomes subservient to His. We live for Christ, not for self.

This is tough to do, is it not? This temporal world has such a draw on us through so many different avenues. Satan knows our weaknesses and will exploit every opportunity to weaken our witness. This is exactly what Paul was referring to in Ephesians 6:12, that our battles are spiritual and that in order to prevail our spiritual strength must be exercised every single moment of our existence.

This means we must grow strong in the Word and strong in our walk. We must resist the world’s enticements and plant our feet firmly on the rich soil of God’s grace. We must take our old self and drag him up on that cross and let him die; there is simply no other way.

And only then, can we delight in the saving blood of Jesus Christ. Then we can take hold of the promise that “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me that day; and not to me only; but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). 

Thank you, Billy Graham, for the example you gave us all.