ATP: Is It Wrong To Play the Lottery?
Right now the New Jersey lottery is over 300 million dollars – yes, you heard correctly, 300 million. Whenever the stakes get that high I am asked every day, "Is it wrong to play the lottery?" Usually, I answer with one sentence: "You can't win if you don't play!"
Amazing how that silences those who play and those who do not. The reality is, if someone spent one dollar on a lottery ticket and won 300 million, on the surface that would be the best dollar they ever spent. I say on the surface because it is only what a person spends on the eternal that will count for eternity. An unknown author profoundly said, "Only one life will soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21
Do you want to see where a man/woman's heart is? Look at where it is they put their money. Do they invest in the Kingdom or do they invest in the temporal?
We have a family that has been attending GCCC for nearly 15 years. They both make a handsome income. They have good taste in what they wear and drive, and their home is lovely. But, their cars and their home, although quality, are not what they could drive and live in. The reason -- they have chosen to invest in the eternal. They have chosen to live in a lovely but not extravagant house, and drive a good but not overly expensive car. They have done so deliberately in order that they can give a greater portion of their income to missions, helping the poor and advancing the Kingdom of God. That is a choice they have made, and if their motive is pure – which I believe it is – then there choice will be handsomely rewarded.
Sorry about the Holy Ghost detour. Back to the question – I believe that buying a lottery ticket is a matter of conscience before God. On occasion my mother-in-law – usually when the stakes are high – will play the lottery. To my knowledge she has never won a thing. (Come on Mom, hit this one! Smile!) Personally, I don't play the lottery and have no plans to, but that is my conscious before God. Buying a lottery ticket once a week is not going to jeopardize a person's salvation or relationship with God, unless God says, "Don't play." Then you had better not play.
However, playing the lottery does raise a few, if not many, caution flags. How much does one play, or should I say how much does one lose? Where could those moneys be spent in a wiser fashion? Pastor Gary has a friend whose father, when asked if he played the lottery, would reply, "I built my house on money from the lottery." The typical response was, "Really, I didn't know you played the lottery." Mr. Lacy would then respond "I don't, I built my house with all the money I didn't spend on the lottery!"
Does one look at playing the lottery as an answer to their financial woes? Remember, God is our provider. You say, "Pastor, the person or company I work for is my provider." No, God is your provider, the company or person for which you work is merely the vehicle God uses to provide. That company/person could be gone tomorrow – God won't.
Furthermore, a person can never be bitten by the addiction of gambling if they never play. If I don't drink I never have to worry about becoming an alcoholic. Is it wrong to drink? No. Is it wrong to get drunk? Yes. Is being an alcoholic wrong? Yes, and the damages are far more reaching then anyone ever wants to admit. Is it wrong to play the lottery? No. Is it wrong to be consumed by "the game of chance?" Absolutely.
If you don't play the game of chance you never have to worry about losing. (Of course you will never win either.) But the odds of winning are not in your favor. So ask yourself the question: "Can I afford to lose this dollar?" Could this dollar be spent in a wiser and more productive fashion? Don't ask yourself the question "What happens if I win?" Most likely you won't. Last but not least – the last shall be first -- ask yourself the real question, "WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)?"
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