In my hometown there used to be a wonderful surrey racetrack. Our neighbors raised horses that ran and won frequently. How I loved watching them put their horses through their paces across the street from our house. I never went to the racetrack, until I started dating. Prior to that I didn’t consider what was at stake, financially, for the owners and those who bet on the races.
One day, a date and I went to watch the races. When he suggested we place a bet on a horse, I said, “Sure,” without giving it much thought. We each placed a ten-dollar bet then yelled our heads off during the race, cheering Lucky Feet, “our horse,” on to victory. Many people in the crowd cheered and hollered like we did. Some sat silently, grimly, during the race.
Lucky Feet lost to another horse by a head. Part of the crowd roared, as apparently the winner had not been favored to win. People who wagered the long odds on the winner jumped up and down hugging each other. My date and I laughed off our loss. Then, I noticed a few other folks in the stands.
One man looked ill, staring at his ticket in disbelief. Some people turned the air blue cussing out everyone from the surrey driver to the owners. Behind us, a woman stood stoically while tears coursed down her cheeks. Our date at the races didn’t seem so fun anymore once I started observing the human carnage that occurred at the end of each race. I never forgot my first exposure to gambling.
Another qualification for leaders which Paul lists in Titus chapter one, is that they avoid “dishonest gain.” As I pondered what that means in today’s culture, gambling and playing the lottery come to mind. I found an interesting article by Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological seminary. He expresses some thought-provoking ideas.
“The entire enterprise of gambling is morally opposed to the moral worldview revealed in God’s word. The basic impulse behind gambling is greed, a basic sin that is the father of many other evils. The Bible presents the stewardship of material possessions as a crucial issue of discipleship. The Christian understands that his possessions and money are not his own, but God’s. We are trustees who will be judged for the quality of our stewardship. Those lottery tickets and trips to Atlantic City are going to be hard to explain when God calls stewards to account. The worldview of the Bible affirms the active sovereignty of God over all events, persons and time- and thus there is no place for luck. The Christian trusts in God, not the vain hope of a winning lottery ticket or a favorable roll of the dice.”
These are sobering thoughts as I consider the day I must give an accounting for how I used every resource God entrusted to me. That phrase “quality of our stewardship,” is stuck in my mind and causes me to look at all my resources differently.
Besides the underlying moral concerns, the ruination of businesses, families and individuals, due to gambling, makes me question why I would align myself with that in any way. Try as I might, I cannot balance the rewards of profits made and jobs created against the personal devastation that also seems to be a steady by-product of this industry.
I expect I’m stepping on toes here and some are saying things like, “Oh it’s just something we do for a little fun now and then. What’s the big deal?” Well, that’s for you to decide. I can’t hear what God is speaking to you. Let me suggest some Scriptures for you to ponder before you take that next trip to the casino or purchase another lottery ticket. I’d hate to miss out on anything coming from God’s direction because I’m holding too tightly to what the world offers. You too?
“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant…” Deuteronomy 8:18
“Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15
“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.” Proverbs 28:19