As I am sure you have heard, Joe Paterno passed away on Sunday morning. Since his death, there have been many articles written on this man. For so many years, he was the beloved face of Penn State University. He was more than a football coach. He was a trusted ambassador for the university. He was a father figure to so many men. He was a philanthropist who gave millions of dollars to fund libraries and scholarships. I have heard some say he did more for the academic nature of the university than anyone else. He was a loyal coach, a trusted friend, and an honest man.
That is, until several months ago. Amid the allegations that he had knowledge of the sexual abuse of children by former coach Jerry Sandusky, Paterno was fired late in the season.
As I have read many articles, one question keeps being raised: "How will he be remembered?" Will it be for all the good that he did throughout his years at Penn State or for how things ended? Of course, there are unique situations in play with JoPa, but let me point out to you that this is the question the world loves to ask when someone dies. Does the good outweigh the bad? Isn't that what is in play here? Does all the good that he did his entire life outweigh the bad events at the end of his life?
While we argue about these sort of things when it comes to the legacy of a man, let me also point out this is the not the scale God plays with. Our lives before God will NOT be judged on a scale of goodness, for the Bible says there are none who do good (Rom. 3:9-18, 23). We have no goodness that we can bring to God's great scale. Any person who trusts in their good works to outweigh their bad deeds will be greatly disappointed on that last day. The prophet Isaiah described even the best works that we could accomplish as a polluted garment (Isa. 64:6, actually it is the word used to describe a rag used to clean up a woman's menstruation). Do you find that as gross as I do? That's how God sees even the good things that we do, apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I do not know where Joe Paterno stood with Jesus, but what I do know is that no amount of goodness will outweigh the bad things he did in this life. And neither will any of yours. That is why we need the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to our account through the means of faith. That is our only hope of wiping away the eternal scales of judgment.