Is gambling a grey-area matter for believers? Is the Bible silent about gambling? Is it a sin for Christians to gamble?
Is Gambling a “grey area” for Believers?
I had a job opportunity that would have been just 8 minutes from my home in cleaning services. At present I work almost an hour away from home. This job would have been at a new gambling casino that is opening up. It would have been much closer to home and it would have been more convenient and easier to travel to and to work at. The pay would have been comparable to my present job but I would have made money based upon the savings in fuel in driving to work in the next city. However I thought it was not appropriate for me to take a job at a casino since I am a pastor and so I turned it down.
In my research about areas that have casinos, I discovered that the crime rates go up exponentially. Those areas close to gambling or gaming centers have experienced skyrocketing divorce rates. Also bankruptcies increase, drug and alcohol abuse goes up, and state and social services have a greater burden placed on them. There is also the need for more police protection as well. The number of gambling addictions increases too. Therefore, it appears gambling centers and casinos, while bringing in revenue, also bring in crime, drugs, and sometimes even organized crime. I feel strongly that a Christian should not gamble. To try and win money at the expense of others (who pay for lottery tickets for example) seems wrong. Gambling and gaming centers or casinos are in the business of making money. There will always be more losers than winners, otherwise they would go out of business.
The local town that has invited the casino to build near us was welcomed with open arms – by the community and by the city officials. This was due to the economic problems the area has experienced. The casinos promised new jobs, increased county and city money, and new businesses. The new businesses were good and so was the new tax money coming in, but the results of having more bankruptcies, more crime, and even a higher rate of suicide is the unpleasant result that gambling centers will never mention when they plan to build in your area.
Is the Bible Silent about Gambling?
The Bible is silent on this but I don’t believe it is a grey area. The one time gambling is mentioned in the Bible was for an evil purpose. It was when the Roman guards gambled over Jesus’ garment at the crucifixion (John 19:23-24). I personally think it is wrong but if you buy a “scratch ticket” for a dollar or two once in a while, that may not seem bad, but add that up in a year’s time and it can be a substantial amount of money. Also, the money used for gambling by a person may take away money for homes and families. It has been known to literally take food out of the mouth of children. I have read of many peoples lives being wrecked by gambling and powerful addictions to gambling take people over and ruin their life. The odds are you will lose since casinos and lotteries are in the business of making money and so this seems, to me at least, to be a lose-lose situation.
There are no Scriptures that actually say, “Thou shalt not gamble” but there are Scriptures about coveting and lusting after something that is not ours. To covet money is sin. To lust after something that you want and do not have is to not be thankful to God for those things that you do have. Jesus said you can not serve both money and God. Luke 16:13 says, “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.”
Is it a Sin for Christians to Gamble?
Remember that Jesus also said, where your treasure is at, there is where your heart is (Luke 12:34). Evangelist Chip Ingram of Living on the Edge Ministries once said that you can tell where a believer’s heart is at by looking at the checkbook ledger or by their credit card statements. Does the Christian spend little money on charities, on giving to the church, in helping the poor – or do they spend the majority of their money on themselves? The Bible seems clear that where the money goes, the heart follows. First Tim 6:10 says, “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.”
The book of James has much to say about money in James 2:5-7, “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? “
Second Corinthians 8:9 has Paul declaring that “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Proverbs 13:11 states “money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”
Money on this earth will decay, be eaten by moths, or even be stolen, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal”(Matt. 6:20). Money has a tendency to change a person and can easily corrupt them. Money, while not the root of all evil, can be the root of all kinds of evil. James understood this and wrote, “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2).
Gambling is a lose-lose situation in my opinion. It can be expensive, it can be addicting, and it can wreck lives and homes. It is just not worth the risk. If anyone wants money, then I believe that they should do it the old fashioned way -work hard for it. God is generous to those who give. Interestingly, the more generous you are, the more God gives back to you. Malachi 3:10 tells us to, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
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