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QUESTION: What does the Bible say about gambling? Is gambling a sin?

SHORT ANSWER: The Bible does not explicitly prohibit gambling (whether poker or the lottery); however, the motivation behind getting rich quick without work, must be questioned and examined. WHY do I want to gamble or play the lottery? What is my goal? Is God glorified in this? Am I truly depending on God to be my provider? It is always good to examine ourselves with such questions.

No matter how good the intentions might be, the desire to “get rich quick” is rooted in self, and not submission to God and his way. God is in complete control of the universe and all its’ resources. Therefore, we should be more concerned with submitting to His will and letting him provide for our needs. We must be careful of the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10).

As with all things, please emerse yourself in fasting and prayer and examine all issues in light of Matthew 16:24.

LONG ANSWER: As mentioned above, I do not find any prohibition to gambling / lottery in the sense we know it today. Why do I say that?

In the Old Testament we see three major types of laws set before us: Moral, Ceremonial, and Judicial (a few may fairly be called “Civil”). The law is our guide on what is called sin, and the breaking of the law is sin. All the ceremonial and judicial requirements of the law have been fulfilled in Christ (Romans 10:4); however, we are still obliged as Christians and to follow the moral law (Colossians 3:5-6). Keeping this in mind…

While we see prohibitions against homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), fornication (Leviticus 18), adultery (Deuteronomy 22:22)(all violations of the Moral law), and many other such things, we see no similar outlawing of gambling in the sense we know it today.

With that said… as questioned in the ‘Short Answer’, what is the real motivation behind the desire to have instant riches? And most importantly, am I truly depending on God to be my provider?

The Heart of the Matter
One thing we humans must acknowledge at a foundational level is that we are inherently selfish, and are not trustworthy. We are sinners! All the good intentions in the world cannot erase the real reason anyone would want instant riches.

“Hubba, hubba, hubba… Money, money, money… who do you trust?” –The Joker, Batman, 1989
This quote is the first thing that popped in my mind and really, in a strange way, gets right to the point. WHO is my provider? Who am I TRUSTING to be my provider? Who should we be trusting?

Deuteronomy 8:18
But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

Philippians 4:19
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Here we see a principle. God is our source and is the sole provider of our NEEDS. Jesus, in Luke 12, takes this thought even deeper.

Luke 12:22-34
[22] And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
[23] The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
[24] Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
[25] And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
[26] If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
[27] Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
[28] If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
[29] And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
[30] For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
[31] But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
[32] Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
[33] Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
[34] For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also


Hebrews 13:5
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.

1 TIMOTHY 6:6-10
[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

Ecclesiastes 5:10
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.

I believe these scriptures teach us all we need to know about this. God is our source and provider. We are to be content with such things that he provides for us. We can choose to submit to his will, or try and become our own god.

Further Questions
Why do we want all that money if already God owns it all?

Do I really want God’s plan? Or MY PLAN white-washed with God-talk?

Do I really want to obey his command to be content? Or do I want some protection from God’s plan in case I don’t like how things are going?

Ask yourself these questions. And be honest with yourself.

In our hearts, we just want our way. We are selfish creatures. That’s why Jesus said, ‘love your neighbor as yourself’. We love ourselves plenty. God is calling us to a better life. A life centered on being a giver, not a taker. (Being a Giver here not being limited to money)

Driving Home the Point One More Time…
I will not go into the details here; however, I encourage you to search for this in your favorite internet search engine: “lottery winners ruined lives”. Having lots of money will not solve all your problems.

The Truth We Do Not Want to Hear
We humans don’t like to worry. We don’t like to be uncomfortable. We don’t like hard times and we never want to go through them. I believe this and greed to be the primary desires at the heart of playing the lottery or gambling.

However, when hard times come, it does not mean necessary that they’re coming from our enemy. There are times when God brings or allows hard times into our lives. They are part of his plan to grow us and mature us. If we’re honest we’d have to admit that most of the time, it’s the only way we learn.

I call this concept, “submitting to the trial”. Instead of looking for ways out of what we’re going through, why not seek God’s will? Instead of running from pain, why not let it build up character in you?

Gambling can also be an issue in the realm how we handle what God has given us. I thought this obvious; however, it is worth a mention. While buying a single lottery ticket will not break the bank, buying a hundred of them may get the way of paying the bills. Taking care of our families and needs first is our duty. It is also part of our testimony. Let us be faithful in what God gives us. If we’re not faithful with the little he gives, how could we expect him to give us more?

How About Casting Lots?
This is one interesting event in scripture that almost seems like a lottery, or a “gamble”; however, with obvious differences in the intentions and outcome.

In Acts 1:26 it states, “And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles”. Before this they prayed.

With this in mind, please consider Proverbs 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD”.

The lots were cast in order to make sure man’s will did not interfere. God would guide the outcome and not one was winning tons of money for themselves.

Other Scriptures to Consider
Here are some other thoughts I wanted to include in this Q&A study; however, I didn’t want to make it too long.
Luke 12:13-15 and 16-21, Luke 16:10-13, Mark 8:36, 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, Exodus 20:17, Matthew 25:15-28

Please review the questions asked in this short response. Please examine yourself. Please meditate on the scriptures provided. I believe they will give you the answers you need.


answered by John Lowe

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