Gambling Refs
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Gambling is accepted by most people as a legitimate activity and an acceptable form of entertainment. It is enticing and often appears glamorous. Governments and non-profit organizations often use gambling to raise revenue. But an application of God’s principles shows that gambling is not a suitable activity for believers, nor is it good for society as a whole.

1 Timothy 6:6-10

Gambling can appear an attractive activity: it offers the chance of becoming richer without having to work hard to achieve it. You may be tempted to want more money and to gamble to get it. However, dabbling in gambling may have a detrimental effect on your relationship with God and with others. This is Paul’s message when he warns strongly against being “eager for money” because it may cause a believer to “wander from the faith”. He says that trying to satisfy a desire for more money will not lead to happiness; rather it will lead to “many griefs”.

1. Would you be content with food and clothing (v8) but nothing else?
2. How does a love of money lead people away from the faith (v10)?
3. List as many types of gambling as you can. What do each of these activities have in common?
4. What different reasons do people have for gambling? Are these reasons acceptable to God?
5. List the things you have in mind when you wish you had more money. Are they worthy of your dreams?

Although gambling is not directly condemned in the Bible, there are several biblical principles which show that it is not an appropriate activity for followers of Jesus.

Be content:
Proverbs 30:8; Philippians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 6:7-8; Hebrews 13:5.
Trust God rather than money:
Deuteronomy 8:12-14; Psalm 52:7; 62:10; Proverbs 11:28; Mark 10:24-25; 1 Timothy 6:17.
Do not love money:
Ecclesiastes 5:10; Matthew 6:24; 1 Timothy 3:3; 6:9-10; 2 Timothy 3:2; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 5:2.
Do not be greedy:
Proverbs 15:27; 28:22,25; Matthew 23:25; Mark 7:20-23; Luke 12:15; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:5.
Do not try to get rich quickly:
Proverbs 13:11; 20:21; 28:20,22.

Covetousness and greed
Coveting is longing for something that belongs to someone else. It is directly condemned in the ten commandments.
Exodus 20:17 Gambling is a form of covetousness. Even when people win, they are not satisfied and often continue gambling for higher stakes.
Gambling is attractive to those who are covetous and greedy, and it encourages them to become even more so.

Greed is also condemned many times in the Bible. Jesus warns against greed and against placing importance on accumulating
worldly possessions.
Luke 12:15 Paul says that greed will prevent a person inheriting God’s kingdom:

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. . . For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person-such a man is an idolater-has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:3-5)

Working to earn a living
The Bible teaches the principle of working to earn a living. Why do you think God instituted working for a living? Is there any value in it? The pattern of working six days of the week was established by God at creation. The instruction given to the children of Israel was

Six days you shall labor and do all your work. (Exodus 20:9)

In contrast, gambling is pursued by those who are trying to get something for nothing. Rather than depending upon hard work, gamblers depend upon luck. Gambling promotes laziness and a poor attitude to work. The apostle Paul says that those who refuse to work for a living do not deserve to be paid.

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

Lazy believers are reprimanded by Paul and reminded of their duty to earn a living. He expects them to develop a healthy
work ethic:

Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:12)

Getting rich quickly
Gamblers often try to make a lot of money as fast as they can. The Bible encourages us not to look for get-rich-quick schemes,
but rather to save what we have earned little by little.

Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. (Proverbs 13:11)

Trusting God for security
As followers of Christ, we should always look to God for security. He provides all that we need. If we gamble, we are not
; trusting in God to provide for us. Ecclesiastes 5:19 We’re trusting in our money, and we’re trusting (foolishly) in the chance that we will win. Matthew 6:31-33

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. (Proverbs 11:28)

Are you tempted to try gambling?

• Be familiar with what the Bible says about money and greed.
• Be aware that gambling and greed are dangerous. Paul warns that some believers will be lured away by a love of money and will make it their god. Don’t be fooled into thinking this does not apply to you!
• Remember that you are an example to others-believers and unbelievers.
• Don’t be tricked into following the bad example of others: follow your own conscience.

What other suggestions do you have for someone who is tempted to gamble?


Do you already have a problem with gambling?

• Acknowledge the problem and confess your sin to God and any others who have been a?ected by your behaviour.
• Make a commitment before God and fellow believers to stay away from any form of gambling.
• Seek strength from God and other believers to keep your commitment. Avoid situations where you may be tempted to gamble.
• Take responsibility for gambling debts of the past and work out a plan to repay them.
• Join an established programme for gamblers, to receive support in overcoming the problem.

The effect on others
The nature of gambling is such that a person has a chance to win only because others have suffered a loss. Participating in gambling is not consistent with the principle of loving your neighbour.

When people get caught up in gambling, they sometimes end up neglecting their families. Money that should be spent on family needs is wasted on gambling. Those who can least afford it tend to be the ones trapped by gambling, and both they and their families suffer. Paul urges followers of Christ to avoid getting into a situation where they will be unable to meet the needs of their families.

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

Gambling also has an effect on others who see what we do. We should always behave with the utmost integrity, remembering that we are an example in our behaviour to unbelievers.

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. (2 Corinthians 6:3)

If we gamble, we may cause others to be tempted also. Rather, whatever we do should be for the glory of God.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God-even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)

What would you do if . . . ?

1. Some old friends invite you to a night out at a casino.
2. Someone knocks at the front door selling raffle tickets for the local school. Your children attend the school.
3. You are asked to pay two dollars each week to go in the o?ce footy tipping competition when you first start your new job.
4. You are invited to play poker at a supper after youth group with five cent pieces.
5. You ring up a radio station to answer a general knowledge question. Your guess is wrong so you are given a lotto ticket.
6. You are invited to the staff o?ce dinner which will be held at a restaurant in a casino. The boss will give everyone ten dollars worth of casino chips at the dinner.
7. You are invited to attend an annual horse racing carnival by a business associate.

Use biblical principles to help you make your decision in each case.


1. Under what circumstances would investing in the stock market be gambling? Use biblical principles to support your answer.
2. Should we get involved with fund-raising for non-profit organizations where raf?es are used to raise funds?


• Josh McDowell’s handbook on counselling youth, by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler, (Word Publishing, 1996.) Chapter 40 covers Gambling.
• Freedom in Christ by H.A. Twelves (published by the Christadelphian, 1968). Chapter 5: Gambling. 6 pages.


13. Idolatry
16. Temptation
58. Wealth and money

 
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