(Current events in the light of Scripture)
By Joe R. Price
A Massachusetts woman won $758.7 million Wednesday night in the Powerball lottery, “the largest grand prize won by a single lottery ticket in U.S. history” (abcnews.go.com). After taxes, that’s about $480.5 million.
Whenever these jackpots get to be enormous, like this one did, we hear of people rushing out to buy lottery tickets. We also hear the odds of winning are less than getting struck by lightning. (One source set the odds of winning this jackpot at 1 in 292 million – (abcnews.go.com).
Is gambling sinful only when one cannot afford to lose? (Oh yes, the lottery is a form of gambling.) That is not the Bible way of determining sin. But some say, “I can afford to lose what I spend on gambling. It’s just fun recreation.” (Notice, no Scripture is offered to support this defense.) Let’s try that logic on some other things. For instance, what if someone said, “I can afford fornicating when my spouse is away from home. No one will know, and no one is harmed. It’s just fun recreation.” Or maybe, “I can afford a bottle of vodka once a month. I can afford it, and nobody gets hurt. It’s just fun recreation.” Do you see how ridiculously absurd that sounds? (Sometimes we must “answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes,” Prov. 26:5).
Gambling is a sin for any number of Bible reasons. It will be put away by Christians who seek heavenly things (Col. 3:5-10). Gambling is energized by motives of greed, covetousness, and discontentment (1 Tim. 6:9-10; Lk. 12:15). The lure of getting rich quick can be very powerful, so, we must reassign our values (Col. 3:1-4). Then, there is the matter of poor stewardship, not to mention the premise of gambling is winning someone’s money – not at all a godly expression of loving your neighbor as yourself (1 Tim. 6:17-19; Matt. 22:39). Then, there is its addictive aspect, capturing people in a loop of compulsive conduct that destroys lives (2 Pet. 2:19).
These are some of the reasons why gambling, in all its forms, must be rejected by all who love God and not the world. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26)