As dawn broke over the United States this morning, football fans had their ears ringing with the euphoric news that the recent NFL work stoppage may very well be coming to an end. It appears that the NFL owners and the NFL players’ union are on the verge of a labor agreement… with votes apparently happening early this week and training camps being opened with that impending agreement. For the football fan, this means a deep sigh of relief and a now-realistic anticipation of NFL football this fall. For the teams, however, it means much, much more. Each NFL team must set priorities for how they are going to handle training, practice, signings, etc. Which undrafted free agents will be pursued? Which veteran free agents will be signed? How will the new collective bargaining agreement affect the contracts of the rookies drafted back in April? What requirements are most important to fill out the rosters in preparation for the season? The next few weeks will be an exercise in setting priorities and following through on them—and, in this strangest of all NFL off-seasons, the teams that most skillfully act on those priorities will have a huge advantage going into the new season. The Bible has something to say to us about priorities as well—and those priorities can enable us to live more effectively for Christ. Interestingly, much of what the Bible lifts up for us as priorities have much more to do with who we are, as opposed to what we do or how we perform. Perhaps this is why Jesus launched His first major sermon with a description of attitudinal priorities—the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-10). This idea is also reflected in Paul’s teaching on the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, so that we can understand the character of the heart that reflects Christ to the world. It is all about priorities—and how we put Christ on display through them. Jesus’ call to be peacemakers and pure in heart and merciful (and all the rest) is buttressed by the Spirit’s fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, and more. These are the priorities we set—and the result is a heart that displays the ultimate priority for us all:

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8)

This is the ultimate priority—for it fulfills the law of Moses, embraces the words of Christ and displays the passion of the Spirit. What is your priority?   Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain