MEMORY VERSE: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” – Hebrews 13:5
BIBLE PASSAGE: 1 Timothy 6:6-12
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
The word gamble means "to risk something of value on an outcome that depends on chance". Other related activities to gambling are betting, lotto/lottery, gaming, casinos, 'money doubling' and 'get rich quick' programmes, among others. Because the outcomes of these activities "depend on chance" and doing them involves "risk", then, by definition, they are all gambling. Although, the Bible does not specifically condemn gambling, betting, or the lottery, it does warn us, however, to stay away from the love of money (1Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 13:5). Scripture also encourages us to stay away from attempts to "get rich quick" (Proverbs 13:11; 23:5; Ecclesiastes 5:10). Gambling most definitely is focused on the love of money and undeniably tempts people with the promise of quick and easy riches. Jesus warns us against letting riches get in the way of our spiritual benefit (Mark 4:19; 10:25) and that we cannot serve both God and money (Luke 16:13).
1. Instances of gambling in the bible
2. Reasons for gambling and its consequences
3. Biblical counsel for believers
INSTANCES OF GAMBLING IN THE BIBLE
The Bible contains instances of gambling: Samson's bet in Judges 14:12-13 and the soldiers' gambling over Jesus' garments in John 19:24. In neither case is gambling presented in a good light. It also mentions events of "luck" or "chance" and instances of lottery. As an example, casting lots was used in Leviticus to choose between the sacrificial goat and the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:8). Joshua cast lots to determine the allotment of land to the various tribe (Joshua 18:10). Nehemiah cast lots to determine who would live inside the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 10:34). The apostles cast lots to determine the replacement for Judas (Acts 1:26). However, Proverbs 16:33 emphasizes the sovereignty of God: "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD". Hence, the biblical purpose of casting lots was not to test one's luck or to gain material wealth.
REASONS FOR GAMBLING AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
1. One of the world's lies is that money is the answer to life's problems. People are lured into playing lottery with promises that their lives will improve if they can only hit the jackpot. If they can just get lucky with the numbers, their problems will disappear. Such hopes are empty (Ecclesiastes 5:10-15).
2. Gamblers, including players of lottery, typically covet money and the things that money can buy. God forbids covetousness (Exodus 20:17; 1Timothy 6:10).
3. Playing lottery as a get-rich-quick scheme is statistically futile, and it focuses the lottery player on the temporary riches of this world (Proverbs 23:5).
4. The main purpose of gambling/lottery is to win money, and the Bible tells us what our attitude toward money should be (1Timothy 6:10). Studies show that the vast majority of lottery winners are in an even worse financial situation a few years after winning a jackpot than they were before.
5. The allure of "getting rich quick" is too great a temptation to resist for those who are desperate. The chances of winning are infinitesimal, which results in many peoples' lives being ruined (1Timothy 6:9; Proverbs 1:32).
BIBLICAL COUNSEL FOR BELIEVERS
1. God wants His people to prosper (Psalm 35:27; 3 John 2) and to earn their money honestly by working hard (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We ought to gain wealth through diligence, as a gift from the Lord: "Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth" (Proverbs 10:4).
2. Jesus teaches, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money (Luke 16:13). Do not join the multitude to do evil (Exodus 23:2).
3. In 1Timothy 6:10, we find the famous warning that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Proceeds from gambling/lottery/betting do not please God (Proverbs 13:11). God is sovereign and will provide for the needs of the church through honest means.
4. Money and material wealth should not be the primary pursuit of a believer, rather it should be the kingdom of God and righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
5. Money should not be wasted. Excess money should be saved for future needs or given to the needy and the Lord's work, not gambled away (Proverbs 19:17; Exodus 35:5).
We must guard our hearts against greed and covetousness (Proverbs 1:17-19).
1. Why do people gamble?
2. Mention some biblical instances of lottery and the purpose.
3. What counsel does the Bible give to believers on gambling?