What does the Bible say about gambling?
Although the Bible does not talk about casinos or speak directly about gambling, it does deal with the mindset that prompts people to indulge in gambling and deals with the common effects associated with these activities. Consider the following advice from the scriptures:
- According to the Bible, we are to be good stewards of the goods we have (Luke 12:42); in other words, we must manage our resources wisely. Gambling, betting, slot machines, spending your money in casinos do not equate to managing your property wisely. It is seriously risking your money; the statistics show it: the odds are not in favor of the players.
- The Bible also teaches us that we should use our resources to provide for our families, and not risk losing everything imagining ourselves winning more by gambling. There is an obvious spiritual dimension to the way we manage our finances.
It is written: “If anyone does not care for his own, and especially those of his family, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5: 8).
Carefully weigh each of these words and the implications of this powerful statement. The original Greek word here translated into French as “infidel” describes in particular “a pagan … someone who cannot be trusted”
The difference between our legitimate spending and love of money
The Bible recognizes that we need money. Jesus, when He taught His disciples how to pray, included the statement, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). This means that not only is it good to ask God to provide for our needs but also that we should ask Him every day. Of course, meeting these needs often costs money.
On the other hand, the urge to get money can become an addiction. This is something very real.
The Bible warns us: “the love of money is the root of all evil; and some, being possessed, have gone astray from the faith, and have thrown themselves into many torments ”(1 Timothy 6:10).
Ask yourself if the way you manage your finances meets your needs and those of your family, or if making money has become an addiction to you.
Recognizing that one has crossed the line between being responsible and having developed a dependence on money requires courage and humility.
The poor, the rich, and anyone in between is susceptible to gambling addiction. Many poor people play the lottery, imagining themselves winning and lifting themselves out of poverty.
However, their chances of winning are so minimal that these games of chance are often said to be “a tax for the poor”. But what is even more serious is that – according to the Bible – the love of money can prevent some people from ever entering the Kingdom of God.
The definition of lust and greed
- God declares that we should never covet or be greedy. Lust and greed are sins (Exodus 20:17; Colossians 3: 5; 1 Timothy 3: 3). The word covetousness is hardly used anymore nowadays, let us try to define it: “extreme or immoderate desire to have something, greed” (Larousse.fr); “Strong desire for possession, greed” (Linternaute.com). Regarding greed: “immoderate desire for money and wealth” (Larousse); “Excessive desire for gain, for money” (Linternaute).
- It is written: “Do not indulge in the love of money; be content with what you have; for God himself has said, I will not forsake you, neither will I forsake you ”(Hebrews 13: 5). And again: “He who is addicted to dishonest gain disturbs his house, but he who hates gifts will live ”(Proverbs 15:27, Webster’s version).
Give up the idea that by playing you can improve your situation and that of your family. These passages show that this is a lie. If this is what we think we are deluding ourselves.
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Honest work or free gain
- The Bible tells us to work, which is the opposite of dishonestly acquiring money or risking needlessly losing what we have earned. The divine way emphasizes generosity and not greed and greed. “Let him who stole steal no more; but rather let him work, doing what is good with his hands, that he may have something to give to him who is in need ”(Ephesians 4:28).
The Bible also speaks of the consequences of laziness: “The desires of the lazy kill him because his hands refuse to work” (Proverbs 21:25). Laziness is an apt qualifier for the attraction of gambling. Gambling can make anyone – not just the poor – believe in the fantasy that you can get something for free.
The power controlling your life
- True Christians have God as their master, and it is He whom they serve; money is not their master. Did you know that the Bible warns you of the conflict that could exist between the two? ” No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other; or he will cling to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon ”(Matthew 6:24). Mammon is another word that is hardly used anymore. According to Larousse, it is an “Aramaic term which, in Judeo-Christian literature, personifies the material goods of which man makes himself the slave” (Petit Larousse illustrated).
- Even if gambling was beneficial, any honest person would recognize that it is easy to become a slave to it. However, we know that gambling (again in the context of games of chance, lotteries, and casinos) is not beneficial. When we cross the dividing line between, on the one hand, the judicious and legitimate use of money and, on the other, the addiction to wealth, that defines our way of life; material goods have become our god – an idol! We notice from this verse that our eternal salvation is at stake. It is therefore no small matter.
- We must not become slaves to addictions. And again, the statistics make it clear: for many people gambling is a drug, an addiction. As the Scriptures say: “Each one is a slave to that which has triumphed over him” (2 Peter 2:19). We are to be subject to divine power, not to any substance or uncontrolled desire for some gain. When something has control over us, we are dependent on it.
- The apostle Paul, addressing the Church in Corinth, wrote: “All is permitted to me, but all is not useful; anything is lawful to me, but I will not allow myself to be enslaved by anything ”(1 Corinthians 6:12).
The game does not bring any good. It does not benefit anyone; neither to the individuals involved, nor to families, nor to society. Sadly, many governments are ostrich and knowingly ignore the disadvantages of gambling, using lotteries, raffles, casinos, and gambling for profit. It exploits vulnerable people instead of helping them.
Gambling – a hobby?
Some see gambling as a hobby, claiming that it is no different from spending on any other form of leisure or entertainment. Note, of course, that all Christian fun does not include reprehensible behavior. Christian recreation should only include spending out of available funds (money one can afford to spend) on something that is within divine law and that you and your family enjoy. By definition, gambling (any game of chance, any lottery, raffle, or casino expense) is not a hobby or entertainment for Christians.
It is well known that gambling easily becomes an addiction; that it is a trap that destroys people, families, and society. This is not an innocent or laudable way to have fun.
As we have just seen, many evils can arise from gambling – the worst of which is the loss of one’s salvation, of eternal life. Christ promised believers, “All these things [food, clothing, shelter] the Gentiles seek. Your Heavenly Father knows you need it. Seek first [and Christ sets our priorities here – what we should seek first, spiritual values and not the pursuit of material goods] the kingdom and righteousness of God; and all these things will be given to you on top ”(Matthew 6: 32-33).