Playing the lottery, betting on games, placing wagers online or playing poker with your friends… Is it wrong? Is it right? How should Christians approach the topic of gambling? What does the Bible have to say?
What used to be illegal and reserved only for “Sin City”(i.e. Las Vegas), has now become accessible nationwide. Online gambling, Indian reservations, and state lotteries have made gambling available to anyone. So what does this mean for Christians today?
First of all, it’s important to recognize that gambling is woven throughout the fabric of our culture and everyday life. When you buy car insurance, you are gambling. When you invest in a business stock, you are gambling. When you pay for an expensive education, you are gambling. The goal in all these expenditures is to invest money now in order to make or save money later. There are no guarantees to your investment, so essentially it’s a gamble. Therefore, we must be careful to simply define all gambling as sinful, otherwise we open a can of worms in terms of daily life. The real question is whether gambling can become sinful or wrong?
Let’s explore three ways this can happen.
If It’s Rooted in Greed
1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Money can be a dangerous snare and needs to be cautiously monitored. Jesus warned that if we aren’t careful, money can become an idol in our lives (Matthew 6:24). The “love of money” is having the mindset that you always want more and can never have enough. When this takes place, a perpetual discontentment sets in causing greed to creep into the picture. This is very destructive and will always result in a blowout with God.
Gambling can easily create a dangerous temptation for greed to flourish. When you gamble to “hit the big one”, get rich, or get to the next level, you’ve started down a dangerous and sinful road to feed a greed need.
If You Can’t Afford to Lose
Proverbs 10:4-5 – Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
Scripture is very clear that godly people are to work hard in order to make a living. If you are placing a wager to make quick easy money, get out of working, or pay off your bills then you have a sinful perspective in place. Gambling should never be a way to make ends meet, get a pay raise, or buy something you normally can’t afford. If you can’t afford to lose, you can’t afford to gamble! It’s similar to other forms of entertainment like going to an amusement park, a play, or concert. If you can’t afford the tickets, you don’t go. When gambling becomes a financial strategy for life and you can’t afford to lose, you have crossed the line and it has become sin.
If It Becomes a Preoccupation
1 Cor. 6:12 –“Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
The National Council on Problem Gambling reports that 2 million U.S. adults are compulsive gamblers and another 4-6 million are considered “problem gamblers” heading toward addiction. Gambling can easily become an addiction like alcohol or drugs. It can destroy lives, marriages, families, careers, and your walk with the Lord. It can provide a false sense of hope that keeps you coming back for more.
Don’t be fooled! If you find yourself progressively preoccupied with gambling, needing a fix, upping the ante, or chasing your losses, you need to stop and get some help. God wants you living in freedom, not in bondage to an adrenaline thrill. Know yourself, be honest with yourself, and don’t fool yourself. Nip it in the bud now!
Although gambling doesn’t necessarily have to be sinful or wrong, as you can see there are major risks and temptations that need to be constantly monitored. It is a dangerous endeavor. So consider these traps and ask God what He would have you do.
I bet you won’t pass this post on! 🙂
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