What is the sum of a baseball player? Innate talent, plus skill (different from talent), plus work ethic, plus physical size and strength, plus coaching, plus teammates, plus incentive, plus compensation…add all of that up and you get the sum of a baseball player.

What is the sum of a playing career? Achievements, plus accolades, plus records, plus wins, minus losses…some combination of all of that gives you a picture of the quality of a player’s career.

What is the sum of a player’s life? Here’s a hint: nothing that was just added to produce the sum of a player or a career goes into the sum of a life. None of it.

Consider this from Proverbs 11:4–“Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (NIV).

Don’t let the words get in your way here. Wealth can’t produce eternal life and it’s useless when you stand before the Lord. If you consider what “wealth” is to a player, you’ll come up with things like talent, size, compensation, achievements, and records. Therefore, the truth remains. None of that matters when you consider the judgment of God.

Being a good player or coach or whatever won’t mean a thing in the presence of God upon your death or at the return of Jesus. “But righteousness delivers from death.” The sum of your life, then, is not how good you were or were not as a player, coach, or parent. The sum of your life is found in your righteousness.

Two types of righteousness are available: self-righteousness (that is, trying really hard to do great and moral things on your own, thinking the good will one day outweigh the bead), or the righteousness of Jesus (which, as the Bible tells us is given to us at the moment we trust Him with our lives). Self-righteousness is a lie. The righteousness of Jesus turns away God’s anger on our sin and provides the means for us to receive eternal life.

So, don’t miss the sum of your life trying to increase the sum of your playing or coaching career.

Here’s a prayer:

Lord Jesus, turn my heart toward what is important. Teach me to count on your righteousness, not my skill or morality, for my hope of eternal life. Thank you for taking my place on the Cross and for giving my your righteousness in exchange for my sin.