The Bible and Gambling

 
The word “gambling” cannot be found in the Bible.  However, like so many other issues in life, the Bible does contain timeless principles that apply.  We cannot assume that an activity is right or wrong simply because it is not mentioned.

Some try to support gambling by comparing it to the “casting of lots,” which we read about in both the Old and New Testaments.  Although casting of lots was common among many ancient cultures, usually this method was employed when people had to make a decision; and in most instances, casting lots was simply a way of determining something impartially.  We remember that Roman soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ garments at His crucifixion.

What about today?  While casinos and lotteries promise thrills and excitement, people gamble to try to win money.  However, the Scriptures give very specific instructions about what our attitude should be toward money.  “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.  This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).  Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13).  Paul reminds us, “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” (1 Timothy 6:10).

In one sense, incessant gambling is a way to bypass work, but the Bible counsels us to persevere and work hard.  Proverbs 10:4 says, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.”

Another key principle in the Bible is that people should be wise stewards of everything God gives them.  Those who habitually gamble may believe they earn their money with their own labor and may spend it as they please.  Yet, God gives us talent and health to carry out our jobs.  Wise stewardship of any extra monies calls believers to invest it, give it into the work of the Lord, or to save it for emergencies, rather than lose it in games in which the odds are stacked against the player.  Sometimes people who gamble use monies that should rightfully go toward their family’s needs.

Gambling also promotes covetous attitudes.  The Scriptures speak directly to this possibility.  Exodus 20:17 says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.  You shall not coven your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”  Sadly, gamblers many times covet the things money can buy, such as cars, boats, houses, expensive jewelry and clothing.  Gambling also has the potential to turn into an addiction, like drugs or alcohol.  

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, two million American adults are pathological gamblers and another four to six million are problem gamblers.  Such addictions destroy family stability, lead to job loss and cause a person to lose control of his life.  2 Peter 2:19 says, “…for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.”

Finally, gambling provides a sense of false hope.  Participants place their hope in winning, often against astronomical odds, instead of placing their hope in God.  The Bible clearly supports the idea that our hope is in God alone, not money, power or position.  My Christian friend, let the Holy Spirit guide you in this respect.  I have simply offered principles to guide you.  Proceed with caution!

  

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