Over the past couple of months there has been a great deal of talk about the New England Patriots and the fact that during the AFC divisional playoff game between the Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts it was found that the Patriots were playing with balls that were not inflated to the league requirement. “Deflategate” as it has come to be called, has been debated and discussed and analyzed every which way. It has also been the subject of more jokes than I can count.
It is a very polarizing issue. Since the punishment for the Patriots came down those who are Patriots fans have said it was far too harsh. Many who are not Patriots fans have said it does not go far enough. On one hand, underinflated footballs mean very little in the grand scheme of things. There are far more important things in life. Some have even said it wasn’t a big deal because it didn’t ultimately affect the outcome of the game.
While there is a lot of truth to this, I think this goes much deeper than the PSI of a few footballs. The bottom line is that the Patriots broke the rules. It doesn’t matter how insignificant rule is, breaking it still compromises the integrity of the game. Punishment was warranted, and I’m glad it was handed down.
Perhaps it was harsh, but if you think about it being the NFL Commissioner (and being charged with passing out such punishments) has to be one of the toughest jobs there is in the league. Some will say you went too far. Others will say you didn’t go far enough. You can’t win.
Many people have said things like “It’s not that big of a deal” or “everybody’s doing it” as if that somehow makes it all right. As I have listened to and contemplated this issue myself, a sobering thought came to mind. The way that many sports fans and analysts are responding to “Deflategate” is the way many justify sinful behavior.
The reality is that every sin matter how little (if there is an even such a thing as little sins) separates us from God. The Bible says “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23) and “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Notice these verses say nothing about “little” sins, but rather speak of every sin mankind commits.
We are all sinners. I sin every day. So the question is “Is there hope?” The answer is yes. Jesus gave his life to pay for our sins. Yours, mine, and those of the entire world. I will never be sinless this side of heaven, but as a believer in Jesus Christ my hope is that I am sinning less as time goes on. I am going to heaven not because I am “not that bad” but because even though I am bad (by both nature and practice) Jesus took my sins upon him when he went to the cross and gave me his righteousness in return. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
The rules in the NFL are in place so that the games can be fair and competitive for the players which is fun for the fans. Without these rules chaos would ensue. If everything is allowed, there is no game worth watching. In Life, abandoning God’s standards leads to an even greater chaos than a broken rule on the football field and leaves death and destruction in its wake. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
So what does this mean for us? First, I want to encourage you to trust God and seek to follow him with your whole heart. Also, remember that small things—from little white lies to the PSI in deflated footballs—do indeed matter.