A Risk Not Worth Taking
But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
1 Timothy 6:9-10
In 1 Timothy 6:3-10, the Apostle Paul addresses the issue of godliness. Those who teach false doctrine believe that their version of godliness leads to material gain. They are the forerunners of the “health and wealth gospel.” In verse 6, Paul says that godliness, coupled with contentment, does lead to gain spiritually. Contentment should be found in the necessities of life—food and clothing—not the inordinate desire for more. That inordinate desire causes a person to fall into temptation and a trap which eventually leads to destruction.
If we believed the advertisements on television for the casinos and the lotteries, we would assume that everyone who gambles is happy and having a wonderful time. Everyone is shown as a winner.
But the advertisements are deceiving. Gambling does not produce happiness and not everyone who gambles is a winner. Indeed, very few, if any, fit that description.
In his book on gambling addiction, John Eades tells quite a different story. He tells about the night that he came to the stark realization that he was addicted to gambling and had ruined his life and the lives of his family.
I remember the night my lies and the denial of my problem came crashing down around me. Mississippi may be the Magnolia State, but the casinos brought me misery beyond my expectations . . . I stood beneath the flashing lights of the casino and watched the rain as it fell. I had walked out of the casino simply because I had run out of money which was nothing unusual. It had been that way for a long time . . . As I looked out on the rain it seemed as though I had been gambling forever. The irony struck me as I realized here I was, a man who had been working with alcohol and drug addicted people for twenty years, and I was unable to stop gambling. All my life I had been responsible when it came to money, and now I did not have even one dollar on me. In fact, what I had was seventeen credit cards that were maxed out. I had used all my savings and had sold everything I owned so that I could keep gambling a little longer.
It is a fairly long drive from Gulfport, Mississippi to Mobile, Alabama where I lived at that time . . . There was little traffic heading east on Interstate 10 that night, but the west bound lanes were full of cars, racing toward the casinos I imagined, as I reluctantly drove on toward Mobile. Guilt and fear were my passengers, and I could not escape my thoughts that were coming faster than the oncoming cars. Who has cleaned out his checking and savings accounts? Who maxed out seventeen credit cards? Who sold everything he owned to get money to gamble? Who is totally wiped out and facing bankruptcy? Whose car always went faster as it neared Biloxi? Who filled his tank with gas before going gambling because there would not be enough money left to buy gas on the way home? Who used to lock his credit cards in the trunk before entering the casino only to come back later to get them out so that he could keep playing? Who was the hypocrite? Who broke his wife’s heart? Who destroyed everything that he had worked his whole life to obtain? Who was the liar with a soul sickness that could not be described? I was pulling these and many other barbed wire questions through my mind, and the answer to every last one of them was me. I was no longer who I used to be. I was a stranger to myself. I said my name out loud and even that made no sense to me [John M. Eades, Gambling Addction: the Problem, the Pain, and the Pathway to Recovery (self published, 1999), 5-10].
Eades goes on to describe how he planned to take his life that night in a rest area but found that the gun he kept in his glove box was gone. His wife had sold it to pay the electric bill. It was at that moment that he came to the full realization that he had a problem bigger than he was. That night he came face to face with what he had become and knew that he had to get help.
- Gambling is an attempt to get something for nothing.
- Gambling begins with the inordinate desire for more (“who want to be rich”).
- Gambling involves a fixed determination to acquire more.
- Gambling is evidence of life without contentment—there is a “craving” for what one has not been given by God.
- Gambling causes people to follow foolish paths.
- Gambling causes one to continually fall into temptation.
- Gambling causes one to be ensnared—to be entrapped.
- Gambling creates “many foolish and harmful desires.” Temptation often leads to further temptation.
- Gambling leads to destruction.
- Gambling leads to the destruction of one’s self (though not the loss of salvation).
- Gambling leads to the destruction of one’s family.
- Gambling leads to the destruction of one’s community.
Will everyone who gambles become addicted to it? No, but who will and who will not is a very big question—one that no one knows the answer to until it is too late. To gamble is a risk not worth taking. Remember this: if you never start something, you never have to try to stop.
What Can One Person Do?
- Determine not to gamble. Decisions made before the temptation arises help a person not to face the decision-making process in the heat of the moment.
- Write a letter to your local newspaper. State your opposition to any forms of gambling in your area (or any that are proposed).
- Contact your local and state representatives. Ask them to oppose any gambling legislation that comes before them.
- If you know someone who is involved in gambling, encourage him or her to seek help in overcoming the temptation.
Other Helpful Scriptures
Bible verses about Gambling:
Exodus 20:3, 15, 17; Proverbs 1:19; Proverbs 15:27a; Proverbs 21:25-26; Proverbs 28:25; Jeremiah 6:13; Matthew 6:19-21, 24; Romans 14:21, 23c; I Corinthians 10:24, 31; Ephesians 4:28; Philippians 2:3-4; Philippians 4:11-13; I Thessalonians 5:22; II Thessalonians 3:6-12; I Timothy 5:8; I Timothy 6:10