Is It Ok For Christians To Play The Lottery?
Story by Randy Grathen
My wife Laurie wrote a blog post recently about her and a friend musing over all the things they could do if they won the lottery. You can read her story here. One recent Mega-something lottery hit One BILLION dollars!!! Sorry, but NO ONE needs that kind of money.
I was stunned when I read that there are websites devoted to praying to win the lottery. I typed in “websites devoted to prayers to win the lottery.” Google came back with 17,800,000 results. In case you’re so inclined here’s one. There is a meme on facebook that reads “Lord let me win the lottery so I can prove I can remain humble.” That prayer would fall under the category of the sin of Pride, I think.
When Laurie wrote about this website my first thought was you’ve got to be kidding! Then I remembered we did exactly that many years ago.
We got an overseas assignment to the island of Guam. We drove from Wisconsin to California via Interstate-80 which goes through Reno, Nevada at the far west end of the state. It’s known as the Las Vegas of the North and it’s your last chance to try your hand at gambling before crossing over into California. We stayed at the Six Guns Motel. There was a penny slot machine in the lobby. I guess they wanted you to spend your last penny for one more chance to win before you left town – broke.
Laurie said she wanted to try her hand at playing a slot machine. I said sure, if you can find a nickel slot machine, knock yourself out. Little did I know they were everywhere. We went to a casino and she won $100 dollars on her first roll of nickels. Being the smart woman that she is, she took her winnings, we picked up a bottle of champagne to celebrate, and went back to our room.
Fast forward to 2002. The pastor of the church we attended decided we needed a permanent location to meet on Sundays, instead of moving from one rented building to another. We, the congregation, were going to build our church funded by tithes. Laurie and I were getting ready to go on vacation to Sacramento to visit friends from our Air Force days. We stopped in Reno for old-times sake and stayed at the same Six Guns Motel. Before we left Missouri, we talked about the possibility of winning a Jackpot playing the slot machines, so we could fund the new church. We prayed before we left Missouri. Prayed as we traveled. And we prayed in our motel room before we took $100 dollars and headed to Circus-Circus. They claimed to have “The Loosest Slots in Town.” We figured if God wanted us to win, He could make it happen on the first pull, but we also thought we needed to put some skin in the game to prove we were serious. A half-hour later and $100 dollars poorer we went back to the motel. I guess we were going to have to build the church instead of hiring someone else to do it.
So, is it ok for a Christian to gamble?
The bible doesn’t specifically mention gambling as sinful. Having a lot of money is not a sin either provided you gained it and use it in the right way. Romans 14:13… says, I’ll paraphrase, our actions should not cause our brother to stumble. We should not do things that others would perceive as being sinful therefore reflecting badly on God and Christianity. But the bible does warn us about the love of money or anything else we put ahead of God. The problem with gambling is it can quickly become an addiction then it most certainly becomes a sin. The euphoria that comes from winning, like the high from drugs, uses the same pleasure receptors in the brain. We are warned in 1 Timothy 6:9-11 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.
When you put gambling ahead of God and family it also becomes an Idol, and we know how God feels about Idols!
There are innumerable stories of people who destroyed everything in their life through gambling. Quite often one addiction leads to other very bad things as people lie, cheat, and steal to try and recover the money they’ve lost. “Please Lord, just give me one more chance to hit it big and I’ll quit.” Emptying bank accounts and pilfering retirement funds, cashing out investments or borrowing money from anyone who will float them til next payday. Hocking family possessions, borrowing from loan sharks, using or selling drugs or themselves. Men can be Prostitutes too. Many start drinking excessively in an attempt to wipe out the pain and guilt which can lead to drunk driving arrests and jail time. God forbid you kill someone while driving drunk. Some people end up taking their own life or someone takes it from them. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing.
The Holy Spirit taught me that Satan will attack us in whatever area of our life we are most proud of, or are weakest in. He will do anything in his power to ruin us and our relationships. We must put on the whole armor of God to withstand the slings and arrows of the devil. Remember he is the great deceiver. He has been tricking people into sin since the days of Adam and Eve. Do you possibly think you can stand against him alone?
Money has never been a motivator for us, but Laurie and I thought we could help build a church through gambling. We know money is only a tool we use that allows us to obtain the things we need now and to invest in our future needs. I think paper money was invented so we didn’t have to carry around a duck or a pig to barter with. They don’t fit in a wallet, and what do you do if what you need is worth only half of a duck. You get half a dead duck back as change?
The choice is yours whether to play the lottery or not. I’d be willing to bet (pun intended) out of the nearly 300 members of Our High Places at least one person has experienced the dark side of gambling.
If you want to read a real-life account of the black side of gambling, here's a story from a guy who many people may never have suspected had totally ruined his life, until God saved this idiot from certain death. Mike Lindell - yup, the My Pillow Guy. I read his book What Are The Odds? It is an amazing story of redemption. The ONLY reason Mike is not dead is because God had a plan for him.
Just a Thought…
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