Is it acceptable for a Christian to take part in lotteries or other forms of gambling?
Howard Coles, Coleford, England
In today's culture where these kind of activities are prevalent it is good for us to consider if that which was once so clearly something a Christian would not engage in, is still today something just as unacceptable. Firstly we need to establish some biblical principles regarding how God views monetary wealth and our responsibilities with whatever money we possess.
Clearly God expects us to work to get the money we need.
'Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth’, Eph. 4. 28. This we must accept as His normal expectancy as to how we provide the means to live and support ourselves.
Scripture also teaches us that all our resources belong to God.
This would imply that we are not free to use them as we wish. We are stewards who have the responsibility to use what is not ours remembering there is a day of account. We are required to use our money as our God directs us. It is appropriate to ask, 'Does the Lord want us to use His money to buy a lottery ticket?'
The wealth we are given is often used by the Lord to bring home certain lessons to us in our lives.
Here are just two:
1) To show us that we are to be utterly dependent on Him and not on money.
The Lord Himself said, 'If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you’, Luke 12. 28-31. The apostle Paul wrote, 'Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content’, and 'God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus’, Phil. 4. 11, 19.
2) To give us direction when faced with multiple choices.
By providing or withholding resources He can guide through what are sometimes difficult choices. It can be one indicator of the Lord's will for us. Should we then seek means to enrich ourselves to the degree that makes us independent of Him and His direction irrelevant?
So the question to ask is ‘does gambling accomplish these results? Are we looking to God or to the lottery for our needs?’
Are we to accept a 'get rich quick' philosophy?
Scripture warns people who want to get rich to think seriously about this deceptive pathway, 'A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent’, Prov. 28. 20. Furthermore, many that have won the lottery soon learn that the wealth gained by these easier means can cause major troubles in a family. 'He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house’, Prov. 15. 27.
Conclusion - greed and covetousness are sin.
'And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth’, Luke 12. 15. The motive behind all kinds of evil is often the love of money. Scripture concludes that ‘the love of money is a root of all (kinds of) evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows’, 1 Tim. 6. 10.
There is no doubt that greed and covetousness are the main motives behind gambling. Gambling is addictive and even if we don't fall prey to it as a compulsive habit, our example may cause others to be enslaved. Christians should definitely steer clear!