I Timothy 6:6-12

Andres C. Guevara Jr. - May 12, 2007

     "To play at any game of chance for stakes…to stake or risk money, or anything of value, on the outcome of something involving chance…bet; wager…any matter or things involving risk or hazardous uncertainty" (Random House College Dictionary, pg. 542).
     "The act or practice of betting: the act of playing a game and consciously risking money or other stakes on its outcome" (Webster's Third New International Dictionary [unabridged] p. 932).   

     Webster defines gambling as“to play games of chance for money or some other stake; to take a risk in order to gain some advantage; to be, wager; an act of undertaking involving risk of a loss.” This definition is too broad, as it includes risk taking.
     A better definition is “getting something for nothing without rendering service or exchange of goods.”
     A simple definition of gambling would be, desiring the possession or possessions of another (the prize), the gambler creates a risk (that of losing his own possession) in an attempt through chance to gain the possession or possession of another with nothing given in exchange. We all know what gambling is. It is risking money on the result of a game with the desire of winning more money.

     Gambling takes many forms: card games, dice, numbers, betting, slot machines, sports pools, punch boards, bingo or church bingo (for money or prizes), raffle tickets for charity, horse racing, lottery, casino nights, carnival games, matching, and even pitching pennies. Gambling is a matter of kind, not degree. Whether the wager is 50 cents or 500 pesos or dollars, it is still gambling.

     It is not a new problem by any means. The Greeks in Homer's time had knucklebones from sheep and goats that were marked to serve as dice. A gambling board was discovered in Crete that dates back to 1800-1900 B.C. In Babylon headless arrows were used for making wagers. Children in Rome played "heads or tales" with coins. Tertullian said, "If you say that you are a Christian when you are a dice player, you say what you are not, because you are a partner with the world."
     Gambling has been promoted and legalized around in a certain country as a means of raising government revenue. In ancient Rome, the emperors used "bread and circuses" to entertain, divert and appease the people. Now many states use "lotteries and casinos" to indulge the base passions and greed of people.

      Much of America is currently obsessed with gambling. Statistics (several years old) inform us that some 50,000,000 Americans gamble. Fifty billion is spent annually on gambling. Because of its large Filipinos population, the figure for Philippines is probably much higher! According to the Time magazine (July 10, 1989), in 1988 Americans spent twice as much on gambling than on education, and more than they did on medical care. Statistics from the mid sixties reveal more is spent on gambling than on education, religion, or medical care (Mr. Money, Mania and Morals, by Starkey, 1964).
One book dedicated to the facts of gambling informs that the total taken away from the public by gambling in America is greater than the combined profits of the United States steel, General Motors, General Electric - in fact, more than the combined profits from all the one hundred largest U.S. companies (Gambling in America).
     Not many realize how bad gambling really is. Therefore, many think that there is little harm in buying a few lottery or raffle tickets, playing the jackpot machine with loose change, or hoping to make a little money on the stock-market by buying on a good "tip".

Effects of Gambling:

     It is common knowledge that the poor are likelier to gamble than the rich - I am not sure if anyone has determined whether this tendency to gamble is the cause or the effect of their poverty. According to Christianity Today (September 8, 1989) one-third of all families earning below US $10,000 per year in New Jersey spent 20% of their incomes on the lottery. 

     These public lotteries were started to fund public projects to help the city's poor people - when in fact they are a major cause for the poverty and problems of the poor! When the poor lose money that they require for their daily necessities, they often become desperate and borrow from loan-sharks, and then increase their bets hoping to make enough to pay back the loan-sharks. God hates those that oppress the poor—Psalm10:8-18 and loves those that deliver them from oppression—Psalm 41:1. In which category are we?

     The Bible teaches us that men have to earn their living by labour—Genesis 3:19 and if a man will not work he will, and should, starve—2 Thessalonians 3:10. We know that the amount of money in circulation reflects the production of that country. Therefore, when someone makes money from gambling (and not from producing something), he gets someone else's money (namely, the other bettors' money). Gambling promotes the disastrous culture of believing that one can get something from nothing. The Old and New Testament teach the importance of hard work, integrity and steadfastness in achieving one’s goals—2 Thessalonians. 3:10-12; Proverbs 12:11. Diligent work results to plenty of bread—Proverbs 28:19
Work is an essential ingredient of the divinely created order. Gambling mocks the need for work by selling the illusion of gaining something for nothing—II Thessalonians 3:10; Proverbs 31; Matthew 6:31

     The Bible contains legitimate ways for man to obtain moneys.
          a. There is the law of labor, earning money for the labor expended—Ephesians 4:28
          b. There is the law of love, where money or gifts are given in love without expectation of something in return--Luke 14:12-14, Ephesians 4:28, John 3:16.
          c. There is the law of exchange, where a commodity is exchanged for its value in money or something equivalent--Proverbs 31:16, Matthew 25:9.

     Gambling, stealing, etc. do not come under any of these legitimate methods; hence, gambling is wrong.

     A sovereign God is Lord over all of life and is not subject to games of chance--Psalm 33:6-12; Isaiah. 46:8-11; Romans. 11:36. He provides for the financial needs of believers according to His will--Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:26. But He usually uses hard work, industry, and a moral lifestyle to provide for those needs.
     Gambling indicates a lack of trust in God’s ability to provide--Matthew 6:25-34. God who clothed the lilies of the field and who feeds the birds will provide for our physical needs as well--Luke 12:15; Hebrews 13:5; I Timothy 6:6-9.
     Gambling denies God’s law of order and His care for our lives--Matthew 10:30. There is no place for the concept of luck in a Christian’s life in which God is so intimately involved in that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”-Proverbs 3:5-6

     The LORD declares that He owns the silver and gold--Haggai 2.8. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.--Romans 14:12

     God gives us possessions and wealth for four reasons:
          A. To supply personal and family needs--2 Thessalonians. 3:10, 1 Timothy 5.8
          B. To contribute to God’s work on earth--1 Corinthians 16:1-3 / 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:7
          C. To help the poor and needy—John 13:29, Ephesians 4:28; II Corinthians 9:6-15
          D. To support our government--Mat. 22:21, Rom. 13:7

     Everything you do is to be done to the glory of God.--Colossians 3:17, 23; 1 Corinthians 10:31.

     Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow—Proverbs 13:11
     God's plan for prosperity is simple: Make all you can, save all you can, and give all you can. Notice that this scripture proves that prosperity comes when you allow it to gradually grow. In gambling, people are looking for the big-pie-in-the-sky.They want to hit it big RIGHT AWAY.
     The only ones making money in gambling are the casinos and bookies. And how do they get rich? Little by little. Bookies are satisfied with simply a small percentage of everyone's bets. In time they become rich but can’t find sleep.—Ecclesiastes 5:10

     Gambling presents a poor witness to others—I Corinthians 10:31-33. Scripture commands us to ourselves in such a manner so that our actions direct nonbelievers to the Lord rather than causing them to stumble. It destroys church reputation, mocks Christ’s name and hardened the heart of the unsaved to come to Christ when gambling was done by a professing Christian who is a church member.

     Studies have shown that between 5 to 100% of gamblers end up as compulsive gamblers These addicts neglect their responsibilities to family and future to satisfy their urge to gamble. This addiction is very powerful and aside from God's grace there is often no deliverance--Romans 6:14. No one knows for sure whether he is prone to gambling addiction or not.  As Christians we must not indulge in anything that may lead us or others into addiction as it rendered in I Corinthians 6:12 “but I will not be brought under the power of any”. The word “expedient” defined as "useful, proper, profitable." You are not to partake in anything that can be addicting.
     There can be serious consequences from gambling. Such things as a loss of income, indebtedness, and strained family relations are among them. Games of chance can affect the mental, emotional and spiritual health of a person and may result in addiction. Gamblers Anonymous seeks to help those who have become addicted to gambling.
     There are some addictions that are quite harmless, such as coffee. However, gambling is not one of them. It is very addictive and this addiction will ruin families and wreck people's financial security. Peter said, "For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him"—2 Peter 2:19
     I have seen good people turn into thieves all because of the uncontrollable urge to gamble.

     Material things are to be used for the glory of God, not squandered away in gambling (Luke 16: 9, Eph. 4: 28). John W. “bet a million” Gates, once a multi-millionaire, advised: "Do not gamble, do not bet on cards, do not bet on horse races, do not throw dice." Gates played bridge for $1,000.00 a point and matched pennies for $1,000.00 a turn wager $80,000 on a poker hand and bet hundreds of thousands of dollars on horse races. He lost all he had and died broke in 1911. Every gambler is a loser. Gambling is foolish and sinful squandering of God's blessings. "There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up"—Proverbs 21:20.
     A sign advertising a business reads, "Win 25 percent of the time." Of course, that means you lose 75 percent of the time!

     Epithumeo, one verb translated covetousness in the New Testament, is a compound word consisting of epi, upon and thumos, passion. Hence, to fix passion upon. Epithumeo vividly describes much of the mind-set which often surrounds the gambling climate. Appreciate the fact "thou shalt not covet" is mentioned in the same sentence as "thou shalt not commit adultery…kill…steal, and …bear false witness--Romans. 13: 9.
     Greed is often the motive in gambling and is prohibited in the Ten Commandments—Exodus 20:17. Gambling violated the 10th commandment. The activity of gambling is an act of coveting—and attempt to gain the resource of others without providing anything in return. Gambling has also been described as a form of voluntary theft.
Jesus' tells us to beware of covetousness—Luke 12:13-15
     Greedy people troubled their house—Proverbs 15:27. Just as the family of Achan. He coveted—Jo shua 7:21 and took the forbidden riches of Jericho. He first brought trouble upon the nation of Israel, then his greed brought trouble his own house. He and his whole family were stoned to death. Just ask the family of the gambler. He covets the money of others in the "jackpot" and spends his paycheck while his own children go without.
     They are never satisfied--Eccl. 5:10-12; They shall fall--Proverbs. 11:28; They will end up with nothing--Proverbs 13:7

     Covetousness should not characterize Christians, "But…covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints"--Ephesians. 5:3. "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" --Heb. 13:5. Elders and deacons are not to be "greedy of filthy lucre" or "covetous"--1 Tim. 3:3, 8.
     Covetousness is sinful and will condemn to Hell--Mark. 7:21-23; I Corinthians 6:9-10.
     Covetousness and materialism are condemned by the Bible—Exodus 20:7, Romans 13:8-9, Colossians 3:5
     Gambling centers around greed—I Timothy 6:10. The love of money is the root of evil and the love of money is at the very heart of gambling. Gambling proponents often claim that gambling is simply another form of entertainment—Matthew 6:31

     We need to learn to be content with what we have—Hebrews 13:5; I Timothy 6:6-8; Proverbs 23:4-5; Proverbs 15:16-17—Better to be poor with love.

     Jesus teaches us to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."—Matthew 7:12 Gambling perverts this law by wording the golden rule this way: "Do unto others before they do it unto you." No gambler desires the best for his fellow man. Instead, he wants his fellow gamblers to lose so that he could win. How are we doing good to all, when we hope they lose their money?—Galatians 6:10. This is selfishness.
     We are to pray for others, not prey on them.
     Gambling distorts our love for our neighbor—Philippians 2:3-4. Scripture commands us to be concerned about the welfare of others. Gambling, on the other hand, leaves a trail of human misery in its wake.
     Gambling exploits the most vulnerable members of society—Zechariah 7:9-10. We are instructed to look out for the needs of the poor, the widow, the orphan and the oppressed of our society. Gambling preys mercilessly on these groups.

     You hope you will win - perhaps this next time. The lure of becoming a millionaire overnight is strong. - Ecclesiastes. 5:10. Yet where is a Christian’s hope suppose to be? - Colossians 3:1-3

     Since gambling is based on luck, gamblers seek "gods of luck" which are found in the basest forms of religion, thus allowing themselves to be ensnared in demon worship

     The return on investment in all forms of gambling is poor, since only a fraction of the amount wagered is returned to the bettors as prizes (the rest is taken by taxation, the promoters, or the manipulators). Therefore it is dumb for anyone, Christian or non-Christian, to try to make money from gambling. As Christians we must be good stewards of God's money—Romans 14:12..
      Gambling Violates Good Stewardship. God expects us to be wise, faithful, and good stewards of that with which we have been blessed.—Luke 12:42, 1 Peter 4:10, I Corinthians 4:2. Just think about it. How would you like for someone you had entrusted with Php1,000.00 to gamble with it?
      A good steward will plan wisely—Proverbs 21:5; will watch carefully—Proverbs 27:23-27; will seek advice—Proverbs 15:22. Seek out and talk to those who know how to spend and use money wisely.
      Plan for your children. A good and wise man plans his finances to provide for his children and leave them an inheritance.—Proverbs 13:22

     Gambling distorts our view of stewardship—Matthew 25:14-30. Jesus tells us that we are going to be called to give an account for how we invest our treasures.

     Jesus said, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. 7: 20).
     J. Edgar Hoover said, "Gambling is a vicious evil, it corrupts our youth and blights the lives of adults. It becomes the spring-board for other crimes - embezzlement, robbery, even murder." Two writers of antiquity wrote: "…by gambling men are led to fraud, cheating, lying, perjury, theft and other enormities" (Tacitus and Marcellinus).
     Gambling is associated with sin Harrison County, Mississippi, saw divorce rates rise from 440 in 1992 to 1,100 in 1993 - the first full year gambling was legalized in the county. In the first three years after Atlantic City legalized gambling, it when from 50th to first in the nation among cities in per-capita crime. Nevada is always near the top of the list. In the first five years that Deadwood, S.D. legalized gambling, serious crime rose 93 percent. In the first three years after Foxwood opened, rape, robbery, car theft, and larceny all increase more than 400 percent.

     Those who illegally benefit from the gambling losses of others are often stealing--Proverbs 20:10; Ephesians 4:28.
     We are to separate ourselves from the ungodly—II Corinthians 6:17
     Judge for yourselves how you would rate Las Vegas, Nevada with the effects of gambling — they have sown a culture of greed and exploitation:

Nevada ranks:
1st in suicide, 1st in divorce, 1st in high school dropouts, 1st in homicide against women at the top in gambling addictions, 3rd in bankruptcies, 3rd in abortion, 4th in rape, 4th in out-of-wedlock births, 4th in alcohol related deaths, 5th in crime,
6th in the number of prisoners locked up, last in voter participation
     The yellow pages in Las Vegas lists 136 pages of advertisements for prostitution by its various names. No wonder they call it "Sin City."
     A recent magazine listed Las Vegas as "One of the 10 Most Corrupt Cities in America."

     Gambling is to be avoided at all costs at all times for all people.

Objection 1: Gambling is not in the Bible.
     Neither are the words rape, larceny or homosexuality. Are these not wrong and sins?—Galatians 5:19-21. Because a particular word is not mentioned does not mean the action is not sinful and condemned.
     We have shown that greed, covetousness and the "love of money" are clearly condemned by God. Gambling is "such like."

Objection 2: They gambled in the Bible.
     Others will argue that it is okay because they gambled in the Bible. They usually say "casting lots" is gambling.
1. The casting of lots was not gambling, but a means of making a decision. We never read of money or possessions put at risk or wagered. For example: Lots were cast to choose between Joseph and Matthias as an apostle in Acts 1:26. The apostles did not gamble for money.
     The casting of lots under the Mosaic Law in the Old Testament was a common practice (Num. 26:52-56; 1 Sam. 10:20-21; 1 Chronicles 24:5). It was used to make decisions for God’s people. Matthias, a replacement for Judas, was chosen by lot (Acts 1:26). The early church evidently discontinued the practice, relying instead on the Holy Spirit, the principles taught by the early Apostles elders, and approval by church body (Acts 6:1-6, 13:1-2). Casting lots therefore cannot be equated with the modern idea of gambling

Objection 3. Everything is a risk.
     1. Everything may be a risk, but not everything is gambling. And not every risk is sinful, but gambling is.
     2. Some have tried to justify gambling on the basis that it is merely a risk, and after all, we all take risks every day like crossing the street. If you make it across the street you do not stand to gain at the loss of another. There has been no stake or wager placed. If you were to wager $5.00 that you could cross the street without getting hit, you now have gambling.
     3. Some have tried to compare gambling to farming and the risks involved there. Yet, the farmer is not seeking to gain at the loss of another. If he has a good year, all stand to benefit by that. If he doesn't, all stand to lose. The Bible commends farming as honest labor, gambling is clearly not honest labor.
     4. Buying and selling stock is an investment, not gambling. When you buy stock you have bought something of value. It may increase or decrease in value. If that business thrives then all will benefit. However, one could gamble with reference to the stock market as he could on a ball game or horse race. If one bet $50.00 that the stock in a certain company will go up tomorrow, he is now gambling. Again, the Bible commends honest and wise investment. Gambling is clearly not an investment, nor is it honest or wise.
     Difference between Gambling and Investment: A gambler hopes by chance to make money, an investor makes a carefully investigated, calculated decision that he believes will make money. The gambler hopes to make money without work, the investor hopes to make money through his brain work. Therefore, as the genuine investor has an acceptable work-ethic, and is a faithful steward of funds - it is acceptable for a Christian to invest his (or more accurately, God's) funds. However, it is important for a Christian to ask himself what is his motive for investing. Is it for the purpose of being a faithful steward of God's funds, or because he is discontented with his material status? If it is because of his discontentment with his material lot then he should repent of his sin (1TI 6:6-8) To continue in disappointment will lead one to many sins and sorrows (1TI 6:9, 10, LUK 12:15). It is also important to check whether we get so caught up with our investment that it distracts us from God? If so, we should then stop being involved with that form of investment or risk backsliding from God (MAT 6:33).
     Since institutions like the stock market also involve chance and the transfer of value from one person to another, one might ask, how do the stock market, futures, or insurance policies differ from gambling? Purchasing insurance or investing in the stock market does involve some risk. But the money is invested for the development of a business or the provision of one’s financial security. Chance is not the predominant factor. Gambling, however, is based on chance, using pure luck to acquire “easy money” or get rich quick. Some religious groups have used games of chance like bingo as a means of fund raising.
     5.A few have tried to suggest there is no difference in gambling and buying insurance. Insurance is a honest business transaction, not gambling. The company sells a product and the buyer is buying financial protection. The buyer and the company both gain by the purchase of the policy. The risk that is involved is not created by the buying of the insurance.
     6. Prizes are gifts not gambling. When one registers to win a prize at a store's grand opening or receives a prize that is given away for advertisement, he is not gambling. Businesses will give prizes to advertise or promote their products or services.

Objection 4. But it’s legal.
     Making a sin legal does not keep it from sinful.
Private drunkenness is legal, does this mean it is not sinful?
Adultery, fornication and homosexuality is legal, are these not sins?
In some other countries prostitution is legal, does this mean that God accepts prostitution?
     Making gambling legal does not make it good and righteous conduct.
The general reasoning behind legalising gambling is that since it cannot be stopped, it should then be controlled by legalising it. This is a dangerous line of reasoning, because no sinful activity can be stopped by legislation (eg. prostitution, drugs, pornography). However, when an activity is banned, die-hard participants will still find ways and means to break the law, however the vast majority of the population will be restrained from doing so, nor exposed and tempted by it. Legalising any sinful activity always encourages more to sin. The reason why gambling is legalized by most countries, though its harmful effects are obvious, is because of the huge amounts of taxes obtained from it.

Objection 5. But it’s consensual.
     1. Because an activity is consensual does not make it good.
     2. Many sins are consensual, adultery, fornication, prostitution, and homosexuality.

Objection 6. But it is for a good cause?
     Making gambling for religion or charity does not make it right. Just because a religion sponsors gambling does not make it right. What if a religion has a brewery and sells alcohol. "And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just" (Rom. 3:8).

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