“The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:10). Then why do we pursue it? Why do we spend money hoping to get more of it?
I was in a customer’s car a while ago that belonged to a Catholic Priest. He had a “Win $5000 a week for life” ticket in his car. Something about that ticket and the nature of gambling did not jive with what I have read in the Scripture.
Having wealth is never an end to pursue in of itself. Jesus Christ says in the parable of the seeds, “The one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Matt 13:22). Wealth promises us an easier life, but in reality it brings us more worries.
The Scripture never shows us examples where the hoarding of wealth or the enjoyment of riches are something that is apparent in Christians. This is why the Scripture says:
Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it (Prov 23:4).
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt 6:19-21).
Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 16:15-21).
People often argue that, “Well, David and Abraham were rich!” They also had several wives. This is why it is so important to understand the Old Testament and God’s promises in light of the New Testament. This is the task of every preacher, so that the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) may be preached.
We must understand Old Testament examples of wealth properly. There is the instructive aspect of their wealthy. Troubles befell the men that had it. There is also a spiritual aspect to it. Wealth is a picture of the true wealth in knowing God. This is why the Scripture teaches, “The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth, but the poor hears no rebuke” (Prov 13:8). Christ is the Ransom–He is the wealth of the believer.
The Christian has no business seeking wealth for it’s own sake. Now, to use one’s gifts to accrue wealth and use it for the sake of the Gospel is is a spiritual gift (Rom 12:8). So, wealth in of itself is not bad.
However, lotto tickets and gambling are a statistically bad way to accrue wealth. Further, to seek wealth by gambling contains a massive theological misunderstanding: that accruing wealth is an end of itself. The Scripture is explicitly against this.
Some people, perhaps legitimately desperate, hope that “luck” will help them out. Now, being that almost no one plays the lotto for altruistic reasons, it is almost not even worth looking at this consideration. One should not be seeking wealth anyway. However, what if someone really needs the money and just hopes this is their “ticket out of the hole.”
Remember the teaching of the Apostle:
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say,“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me” (Heb 13:5-6)?
Further, God works all things in accordance with His will (Eph 1:11). So, by default luck does not exist. God would have to ordain that you win the lotto for you to hit the jackpot. Being that God warns not to lay up wealth in this world, winning the lotto is not essentially a stroke of good fortune. It is a curse.
This is why gambling is sinful. There is no explicit prohibition against it. However, the thought process behind it reflects a heart that covets money. We should not covet the world and its possessions. This is why James says:
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:3-4).
“Little children, guard yourselves from idols,” (1 John 5:21). That includes wealth.
So, whatever happened to that priest? He came back to the shop and I asked him if he won that lotto ticket. He replied it was a gift from a friend and if he had won, he would never leave the church. Why bring this up? Wealth is an adulteress. Do not seek her and do not wish to win her affections. There is nothing eternal to be gained.