Question:

I am a 16 year old boy. I've grown up in the church and I hope to get a degree in Biblical and Religious Studies when I graduate college. I feel that I am more intelligent and mature than most boys my age. Having said this, I disagree with "Is Gambling Sinful?" on many points. Hopefully, you can help me with some of these issues by further explanation.

"The Bible doesn't say 'Thou shall not play the lottery'"

    "Perhaps not specifically but the Bible does, however, condemn gambling on its principles.  What is the agenda of gambling? On the part of the Lottery Business: to feed on the public’s greed and to have more ticket revenue, than prize payout (barely more than half of the ticket revenue is ever paid out in winnings). Then on the part of the public: to get something for nothing and to get as much money as possible for as little effort as possible.

     The Bible speaks clearly on these things. Greed is covetousness, look at greed in the light of the scriptures: Romans 1:28-32 “such a little sin?” It is mentioned here along with “haters of God”.  Ephesians 4:17-24 instructs us to no longer walk as those that are given over to greediness. 1 Timothy 6:10, to pursue “greediness” is to “stray from the faith”.

     What about getting something for nothing?  The picture of the lottery is getting everything you ever wanted without any effort. From the time that man was driven out of the garden we were told that we must work for our sustenance (Genesis 3:19). If a man does not work, he shouldn’t eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12). There are people in this life that get things that they do not work for by taking advantage of others. They are called thieves. We are to work and receive our livelihood (1 Thessalonians 4:11)"

    I agree with most of this. The lottery system takes advantage of gambling addicts. They target the public's desire to have more money and to receive it with minimal effort. However, notice how I did not use the word greed; I replaced it with desire. In the following paragraph, you clearly proved greed as a sin. Greed is obviously a sin. The desire to have more money is not a sin. The desire only becomes a sin when it becomes more important than God, thus hindering your relationship with God. The next paragraph portrays that "something for nothing" is bad. That is absolutely untrue and completely ridiculous. It's called a gift. Much like that which the wise men brought to Jesus. Oh, and lets not forget your salvation. The Bible makes it very clear that you SHOULD burn in hell for eternity, but God has given us the gift of life through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son.

"We Must Learn to be Content"

"Why do you think that you need that much money? Are you not content with what God has given you? Do you think you deserve more? Not all of us are ten talent people (Matthew 25:14-30 “Each was given a measure according to their ability”). We are given according to our ability. We need to have the wise attitude of Agar in Proverbs 30: 7-9. 

    Become content: Learn to find your happiness in Christ, like Paul (Philippians 4:9-13). Also consider 1 Timothy 6:6 and Hebrews 13:5."

    Once again, you have used manipulation to prove a point. Assume somebody who is already well off financially wins the lottery and wins. Is it not possible that God gave him that money? Can that person winning the lottery not be a gift from God? God gave David wealth and riches. Why couldn't he do the same for the guy who won the lottery?

    Paul had no control over the situation. Striving to be in a better position than you already are is not discontentment. I bet that if Paul had the opportunity to get out of prison early he would have taken it. Once again, if the desire to have more becomes more important than God, it is a sin. But the desire to have more is not a sin.

"Trust In God"

"When a person desires to win the lottery they silently, but surely, proclaim: They have needs that God cannot meet (Matthew 6:25-34). They want their treasures now on earth and not in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). They don’t trust God (1 Timothy 6:17).

     We must develop our trust in God. The God of Heaven who, with the words of His mouth, spoke all things into existence. Who, by His own great power, was able to make this world from nothing, has promised to never forsake you or leave you (Hebrews 13:5).

    Examine all the things that God has done for you in this life: your home, your health, your talents. As long as we have not wasted our talents or buried them we all should be doing the best we can. God knows our needs Matthew 6:32, if we do not appreciate what we have been given we will squander it away and will not be able to meet our needs. The things that we waste are what we have received from God in order to meet those needs."

     You say to examine all the things God has done for you in this life, and then you list home, health, and talents. I noticed how you purposely left out wealth as something God can give, as if He's never done it before. Wanting more does not mean you believe God isn't doing a good enough job. That's an absurd thought.


Answer:

While I am not the author of the article, I hope you won't mind my responding.

In English, we have a large number of words which fundamentally describe the same thing. We prefer this because different words selected give shades of meaning to our statements. You wish to call gambling a "desire" for more money instead of greed. The two words are not fully equal. At the root of greed is a desire, a very strong desire, to possess more. Thus, what you are attempting to minimize the apparent strength of the desire to claim gambling isn't as bad as it might seem. But in this you are being willfully blind. You make gambling out to be something equivalent to working for a paycheck. We work so that we might have more funds to purchase the necessities of life. But a gambler isn't expending effort to get compensation, nor is he looking for additional funds to purchase necessities. The lure of gambling is an incredibly large payback to a minimal investment. It appeals to a person's love of money.

"For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Timothy 6:7-10).

Paul did not state that the desire to have more money only becomes sinful when you want it more than God, though it can certainly led to that point. Paul's point is it the desire to be rich and the love of money is a weakness that leads people into sins.

You also play a word game with wanting something for nothing by attempting to equate it to a gift. I really feel sad that you don't understand the meaning of a gift. The gambler operates from a selfish motive. He wants others to give him something he hasn't earned. The gift giver operates from generosity. He wants to give to others because that is his nature. The two are not equivalent. Those who operate the gambling industry are not operating from generosity. Those who give money to the gambling industry are not operating from thoughts of how they are giving a gift to the winner of the next jackpot. The sole reason they are willing to part with their cash is because they think there is a possibility that they will be the next winner and gain everyone's money.

Jesus' death wasn't a gamble. It was an unfathomable gift given to people who don't understand or appreciate the value of the gift given or the cost the giver when through in order to give it. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). "Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:18-19). Our salvation didn't come about because of man's demands to be saved. It was freely given to man when he didn't even realize he was lost.

Your hypothetical argument is off. You generally won't find wealthy people gambling, though I've heard of a few -- they have a strong tendency not to remain wealthy. The reason is simple, gambling is a horrible investment. As one man said, "Gambling is a tax on people who can't do math." One mathematician worked through the odds for the Illinois Powerball Lottery. He concluded that on average for every $1 you put in, you could expect to receive $0.53 in return. In other words, if you treated the lottery as an investment, it was guaranteed to lose 47% of all the money you invested. I could put the money in a bank account earning 1% interest and make 48% more money than the person buying lottery tickets! By the way, this return on investment remains true even if a person wins. That is why you find people who won big in a lottery dirt poor just a few years later. They couldn't manage money before and they certain couldn't manage it afterwards. A person winning a lottery is not receiving a gift from God.

That is the point you missed. A person who gambles squanders the gift that God has already given him. He takes the funds God has blessed him with and basically cuts it in half and throws half away. That is not the way to be a good steward of the blessings of God or to show appreciation for what God has given you.

Yes, wealth can be a blessing from God. "As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor - this is the gift of God" (Ecclesiastes 5:19). That blessing could come from hard work, an inheritance, or just happening to be in the right place at the right time. But there is a great gulf between blessed with wealth and pursuing wealth. Those who gamble are pursuing it. Men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and Solomon were given it. Paul's point is that godly men could have lived their lives without wealth just as happily as with wealth. The quantity of money they had did not impact their contentment with life. "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13).