I live in The Derby City in the Bluegrass State. Our newly-elected governor made Casino Gambling a cornerstone of his campaign. Thankfully, the proposal will not make it out of the legislature. So, no Casino Gambling for now. Recently, I read a “Taste and See” article by John Piper on the same issue, but in the state of Minnesota (read it here). Also, Dr. Hershael York has written (and spoken) as a strong opponent of Gambling (read his writings here).
No Christian should take part in gambling for one simple reason: Your money is, ultimately, God’s money and there are far better things to do than throw it away.
Some people try to relate gambling (whether it be the lottery, power ball, or blackjack at the casino) to investing your money in the stock market. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over time, the stock market has repeatedly shown an increase. Therefore, you generally get back more than you put in. However, with gambling, as the saying goes, “The house always wins.” If you think casinos are in the business of gambling to make you money, try cheating by counting cards or something like that and you’ll quickly discover they are extremely protective of their money. They do not like to part with their money and they make every effort to insure, on average, they are cleaning up at the expense of their customers.
If you doubt how much casinos like their money, watch a movie like Rain Man, Ocean’s 11, or Ocean’s 13. In these films you can see how every inch of the casino floor is monitored to prevent cheating. This one fact alone should make us realize that casino gambling is a business, not a charity give-away.
Whenever I am asked about gambling, I am reminded of Abraham. Take a moment and read Genesis 14. Abraham (then called Abram) has just rescued his nephew Lot and the kings of the cities of the plain (ironically including Sodom and Gomorrah). When the victorious Abraham returns, he encounters Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High.
Melchizedek blesses Abraham and Abraham gives Melchizedek a tenth of all he has. The king of Sodom attempts, then, to give Abraham the material plunder from the conquest.
Note Abraham’s response: He says no! Why? He’s taken an oath before God that he would take nothing. The reason? So that only God Himself could ever receive credit for making Abraham rich.
I think Abraham’s faithfulness is very instructive to us today. It would be very easy for me or other Christians to play the powerball (and believe me, it is very tempting when the jackpot gets to be in the 200 Million range) or gamble in some other form. But, if we were to win, who gets the glory?
God is greatly glorified in the earned success and wealth of His people. Not everyone will be wealthy; not everyone should be wealthy; and God does not live to make us wealthy (contrary to the so-called “health-and-wealth” false-preachers).
God, we are told, delights to give good gifts to His children. But God is not our cosmic, faith-based Santa Claus. God is also a rewarder of those who are faithful in the small things, including finances. Certainly, gambling with God’s money (and, yes, it is all His, we are only stewards) does not show faithfulness in this area. Gambling, in fact, shows faith-less-ness. Getting rich quick shows a lack of faith in God to provide all you need (notice I didn’t say “want”).
As we demonstrate our faith in His providence, God may choose to reward us by blessing us with deeper pockets and larger bank accounts, through legitimate means.
So, as you consider your position on Gambling be more like Abraham. Determine to live faithfully so that if God chooses to bless you with material wealth it can be said that only God and He alone has prospered your efforts and has made you rich. And if this happens, be sure to use an overabundance of that wealth for Kingdom purposes and make sure to lay your treasure up in heaven.