Don’t Bet On It

Written by  //  October 17, 2010  //  Uncategorized  //  No comments


The National Council on Problem Gambling is an independent organization not funded by the gaming industry. It reports that 85% of U.S. adults have gambled at least once in their lifetimes (60% in any given year).   About 1% are pathological gamblers (clearly addicted).  Problem gamblers account for another 2 to 3%.  Legal gambling is available in 48 states; Hawaii and Utah are the only exceptions (  In 1962 Americans wagered, legally and illegally, $2 billion that number grew to $866 billion by 2000 (Weiler, Sports and the Law and Leveling the Playing Field).  The National Gambling Impact Study Commission noted that Americans spend more on gambling than on recorded music, theme parks, video games, spectator sports and movie tickets combined.  The fact that gambling is a problem in our communities cannot be denied, however what we must do is be sure that gambling is not a problem in our churches.

Often when the discussion of gambling comes up the question becomes a matter of definition, what is gambling?  Gamblers Anonymous defines the term this way, “any betting or wagering, for self or others, whether for money or not, no matter how slight or insignificant, where the outcome is uncertain or depends upon chance or “skill” constitutes gambling.  Gambling is not determined by the amount of money wagered, for that matter one does not have to wager money at all.  Gambling deals more with how we come to possess the thing taken, is there a loser and a winner, and the method of the “getting.”  Gambling can take the form of anything from the lottery to the fall bazaar or fair booth.  Perhaps by looking at the scriptural ways in which God authorizes us to make gain we can better understand what gambling is.

Perhaps the most obvious way in which God authorizes us to make gain is simple honest work.  From the very beginning, God intended for man to work and to gain from his labor.  Even in the Garden of Eden man was given work to do, in Genesis 2:15 we see that man was to “dress” and to “keep” the garden.  We find that “wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it” (Prov. 13:11).  Man was created to work and work is good for man, as a matter of fact the absence of labor degrades man morally and physiologically.

Another approved method of gain is fair exchange.  In Col 3:22 and Col 4:1, we see such a relationship described.  Paul instructs servants (employees) to be obedient in their labor and for Masters (employers) to give fairly to them in return.  In a situation like this, no one loses.  The employer receives the labor and the product of that labor, which he may exchange for gain, and the employee receives compensation for the work done based on an agreed upon rate of exchange.

A third way in which we are authorized to make gain is through investment.  In Prov 31:16 the virtuous woman buys a field in order to plant a vineyard.  She made an investment with an eye toward future profit.  She is praised for her wisdom in this as well as her other actions throughout the chapter.  This idea of investment certainly carries a component of risk; however the risk does not come at the loss of another.  For example, if one was to buy stock in a company and that company was to do well the stock owner would make profit, but the company would as well, no one looses.  If the company does poorly and the stock falls both the company and the stock owner does poorly, then there is no winner.  The point is the stock owner is in no way taking advantage of anyone in his investment in order to make gain.

The fourth way authorized to make gain is the simple acceptance of a gift.  We see several places in both Old and New Testament where the idea of giving to those in need is encouraged.  In Acts 20:35, Paul speaking to the elders from Ephesus gives this admonition, “I have showed you all things how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, it is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Clearly we have the right to both give and receive gifts.

Gambling at its core is simply “unchristian” the motivation behind gambling is “unchristian” and the principles involved in gambling are far from the ideals of godliness that every Christian should portray.  The motivation of gambling is covetousness pure and simple.  The gambler desires what another has and seeks to take his desire with no compensation whatsoever.  The New Testament could not be clearer in its teachings on covetousness.  In 1Cor 6:9-10, we find that the covetous cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven (c.f. 1Tim 6:9,10).  Paul repeats this condemnation again in Eph 5:5.  Secondly, gambling violates the “golden rule.”  As Christians we are to be considerate of others loving our neighbors as ourselves Matt 22;37-40.  If Matthew 7:12, the “golden rule” passage teaches anything it teaches that Christians simply are not to seek ways to take advantage of others, which is the precise goal of the gambler.

The point that we must see is simple, in every aspect of our lives we must strive to be Christ-like.  Too often people want to turn to the world in a confused attempt to understand what is acceptable and what is not.  The world of course has an answer, but rarely if ever does that answer stand up to the test of scripture.  We must seek to live in accordance to His word and His will and effect the world around us by standing apart and standing for right.

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