At The Crossroads Of Gambling

As I write this article, the Powerball Commission has raised this weekend’s jackpot to $280 million. That’s $280,000,000!!! Unbelievable. And, as sure as I am writing this article, people across the nation are mortgaging all they have to buy lottery tickets. They are convinced of Powerball’s slogan, “Somebody’s gonna win...might as well be you!” So they’re laying hundreds and thousands of dollars at stake on a jackpot that says there are 80,089,128 chances they are not going to win. A person has a better chance of getting struck by lightening seven times than in being that “somebody” who wins the lottery!

Despite all this, I am stupid enough to believe that I could be that “somebody” if I were to play the lottery. I have actually convinced myself that I am lucky enough to win it because I’ve been lucky before in other drawings. (I won a $200 putter last year at a golf scramble. I didn’t buy any chances or anything like that. They simply drew names from a hat of all the players present, as a promotion, and I was the lucky winner.) Nevertheless, I am dumb enough to believe that if I were to take a dollar from my wallet and go buy a lottery ticket right now, I would have an excellent chance of winning because of my good luck. And if lose, I would only be out a dollar (or about 20 minutes of long distance).

Fortunately I have never given into the temptation to spend any money on the lottery. I received a free ticket once at a convenience store for buying gas, but even then I felt dirty about it so I’ve turned them down ever since. I could just imagine the headlines, “Local preacher, who says not to gamble, cashes in $100 million on a free lottery ticket.” It makes as much sense as Budweiser telling people to drink responsibly.

One of the reasons I haven’t played the lottery or gone to casinos is because I have been taught that gambling is a sin. I have learned that it is not a wise use of what the Lord has given us, and that it is not an act of love to make a gain at another’s loss. I believe these are biblical principles (1 Thes. 4:11; Rom. 13:10,11), though there are some who would disagree. It’s all a matter of judgment, they say, on how we spend our recreational money. I’ll let God be the judge of that. However, if the doctors told me I had a one in 80,098,128 chance of not surviving an activity I wouldn’t have to think long about turning it down.

How could I teach my kids to trust in God or to work for a living instead of living for pleasure, if I played the lottery? What chance would I have as a Christian in trying to convince the world to put God first, if I gambled? Or what kinds of danger would I expose myself to by getting involved in something so addictive or in living for things that Jesus said would make it harder on me to get to heaven? Who is to say I would still want to go if I had $280 million?

No sir, as of yet, I am content to be wealthy in the ways God has blessed me: fellowship with Him and His people, a godly family, a meager influence and the freedom to live without the fear of losing it all. Right now I have more faith in God when He says, “godliness with contentment is great gain,” than in man’s advice that “somebody’s gonna win...might as well be you.” I know I am always a winner by thinking on things above, where Christ is, at the right hand of God. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by making God my God.

By Mike Thomas

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