By Billy Graham
It is time to start rebuilding the character of the American people. Our greatest leaders came from families whose ethical foundations were built into their very souls. Abraham Lincoln, with neither natural ambition nor education, never escaped the unique character building principles formed in his life by his loving stepmother. Christian character is not old-fashioned or outmoded.
J.D. Grey once said, “When we religious teachers urge young people to live sober, clean and honest lives, we are accused of ‘preaching.'” But the fact remains that business advocates the same thing. Nearly every week we receive letters of inquiry from bonding companies and corporations, asking questions about certain individuals. One questionnaire reads as follows: “To your knowledge is the employee known to be: a user of intoxicating liquor; interested in gambling, in speculation; a user of drugs, opiates or the like; the possessor of a good reputation; happy in domestic life; extravagant; honest and trustworthy; suspected in any fraud; in good company and associates?” It is perfectly obvious that even business considers a strong Christian character of vital importance.
How about the questionnaire on your personal life? Could you pass that sort of examination? One mistake is the tendency to confuse character with greatness. A.W. Tozer said, “Bible characters fall into four classes: first, those who are great but not good; second, those who are good but not great; third, those who are neither good nor great; and fourth, those who are both great and good.”
Goodness is possible for everyone, even though greatness is achieved only by a few. Greatness contributes nothing to one’s personal and inward happiness. Goodness contributes everything. Most people aspire to be great, only a few desire to be good. We are upside down. We are placing value on the wrong thing. Greatness requires a combination of qualities rare in nature. Goodness is a gift of God and may be acquired by the humblest person.