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  "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;"
 . . .  Colossians 1:10  . . .
Gambling Is A Bad Bet!

Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 5/18/03

Today’s message will focus on gambling. Gambling is a serious problem in America today. More than 100,000,000 Americans gamble on some level. More than 300 billion dollars are spent on gambling in this country each year. It is estimated that organized crime makes an additional 20 billion in illegal gambling revenues each year to boot, and uses it to finance other vices that tear apart the moral fabric of our country. Gambling is becoming an ever-bigger problem, particularly in our state. We have state lotteries, multi-state power ball, dog racing, and the Indian Nation gambling establishments. Not to mention online gambling, and illegal gambling of all kinds.

I want to establish several facts as we begin this message.

  • Fact #1 – It is God who gives us the power to get wealth.

Deuteronomy 8:18 "But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day."

God gives us the health, mental abilities and capabilities learn a job, carry out its responsibilities and faithfully show up each day. Therefore, we should gain wealth in ways that God approves of.

  • Fact #2 – Wealth is to be gotten in a God glorifying way.

1 Corinthians 10:31 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

Jeremiah 17:11 "As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool."

This is a particularly interesting verse relating to getting money improperly. Just as a mother bird who sits on eggs the do not belong to her only to discover that they rot and are of no value, so it is with someone who gains wealth in a way the does not glorify God, it will end up useless.

Honest gain is what God demands. Dishonest gain, such as wealth gained through stealing, prostitution, cheating people, selling alcohol, drugs, pornography, etc. is an abomination to the Lord.

  • Fact #3 – Wealth is to be gained by working hard.

Proverbs 13:11 "Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase."

  • Fact #4 – Greediness, or more technically avarice (excessive or insatiable desire for wealth or gain) is the mother of all kinds of sin and sorrow.

Proverbs 15:27 "He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live."

Proverbs 28:20 "A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent."

1 Timothy 6:10 "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

It is my contention is that gambling is an attempt to get unjust gain. Gambling does not glorify God! Gambling is sin.

Focus on Gambling

Gambling Defined

Gamble, 1. to play at any game of chance for stakes, 2. to stake or risk money or anything of value, on the outcome of something involving chance: gamble on the result of a race, 3. to lose or squander by betting. The Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary adds, "to bet on an uncertain outcome."

The Three Elements of Gambling

The following three elements must be present for something to be defined as gambling…

1. A Pay Off

2. The Element of Chance

3. The Stake (the money or article of value) Risked by the Bettor

Therefore, buying insurance is not gambling. The purpose of insurance is to spread the liability and risk of accident, illness, injury or death around. Insurance does not create the risk. It is a universal risk that all people face. It is probably the most effective way of seeing that needs and expenses incurred, if such should happen, are able to be paid for. Investing in the stock market is not gambling. Gambling is generally a win or lose proposition. If you buy a lottery ticket, you either win or lose. In the stock market if you buy $1000 dollars worth of stock, generally your stock will go up or down, but you do not usually lose your entire $1000. Buying stock certainly is SPECULATING, but there is a difference between speculation and gambling.

The Types of Gambling

Many of us got our first taste of gambling on the school playground flipping baseball cards, playing marbles for keeps or pitching pennies. When mom found out I was playing odd or even with my marbles, she put an end to it quickly. That was gambling and that was not allowed in our family. But, that is small change compared to hard line gambling. Let's look at, and define some categories of gambling...

  • Gaming -- playing for money in any game of chance, such as slot machines, roulette, bingo, craps, pay-off pinball machines, punch boards, dream books, chain letters, pyramid money games, poker, black-jack, etc.
  • Betting -- staking money on an event, which the outcome is doubtful. Examples are, horse or dog racing, cock or dog fights, tennis, hockey, football, basketball, hockey, baseball, pool, etc. You can bet on just about anything.
  • Lotteries – A lottery is the distribution of prizes by the drawing of lots. Most states run a variety of lotteries. Pick three and power-ball are among the most popular in our area.
  • Sweepstakes and Raffles – More than 50 countries around the world have sweepstakes, like the Irish Sweepstakes. Technically, a raffle is a lottery where each participant is buying a chance to win. If you buy a ticket or two for a good cause, with the purpose of it being a donation to a worthy organization, I do not see any problem with that.
  • Pools – A combination of betting and lotteries. The most popular is the check pool at work, though there are football pools, etc.

In summary, all the above are recognized as gambling because each clearly contains the three elements of gambling - 1) A payoff 2) The element of chance 3) The stake that is risked.

There are five good reasons a Christian should not gamble…

  • Gambling Is Poor Stewardship of What God Has Entrusted To Your Care

The Bible is clear. Everything we have belongs to God. We are just caretakers. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." A faithful steward does not squander money on gambling. The late M. R. DeHaan said this about gambling: "to risk money haphazardly in gambling is to completely disregard the Biblical truth that our possessions are a trust for which we must someday give full account to God!" (M. R. DeHaan). Gambling is poor stewardship of money; therefore we should not gamble.

  • Gambling Is Based On Covetousness, The Desire To Get Rich Without Working

Gambling is an attempt to get something for nothing twisted by the willingness to take a risk. It is the desire to "get rich quick" without working for it. The desire to gamble is fueled by the love of money and we know "the love of money is the root of all [kinds of] evil" (1 Timothy 6:10). Note the rest of the verse, "…which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

We are warned about the "something for nothing" and the "get rich quick" craving in the Bible. Proverbs 10:4 says "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich." Again Proverbs 28:20 & 22 says "A faithful [honest] man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent. He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him." Finally, Proverbs 13:11 says "Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase." One writer paraphrased it this way -- Wealth from gambling quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows. Gambling is motivated by covetousness. Therefore we should not gamble

  • Gambling Is Idolatry

God commands us to live a life of faith and trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6). In fact, we are to make it our first priority to seek and serve the Lord and trust Him to provide our needs (Matthew 6:33). When a person gambles, the focus is all together different. When a person gambles, the focus shifts from trusting God to trusting in LUCK, CHANCE & FORTUNE. A careful study of Isaiah 65:11-12a makes it clear that God abhors trusting in luck, chance and fortune instead of him. Gambling is idolatry. Therefore we should not gamble.

  • Gambling Is Stealing

In gambling, let it be clearly known in order for a person to win, someone has to lose! "The gains of the winners are paid at the expense of the losers. In winning, one receives the wages that another person has earned without giving anything in exchange." (Gambling, Kober; p.2 & 8). Just because it is robbery by consent does not make it right. Gambling is nothing more than sophisticated stealing. Ephesians 4:28 says "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour,

working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth." Gambling is stealing. Therefore we should not gamble

  • Gambling Is Addictive

Ask Pete Rose or former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett and they will tell you that gambling is addictive! Did you know that teenagers are three times as likely as adults to become addicted to gambling once they are exposed to it? Teenage gambling has become a major problem! Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church warning them not to become addicted to anything. He wrote, "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." 1 Corinthians 6:12 There is only one thing that is to be in control of the believer’s life and that is THE HOLY SPIRIT (Ephesians 5:18). There is no doubt that gambling is addictive. It "gets in your blood". Gambling is addictive and therefore we should not gamble.

Clearly, gambling does not glorify God. If you gamble, repent and quit.


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First Baptist Church of Oak Creek

10550 S. Howell Ave. - Oak Creek, WI 53154

Phone: 414-762-7575

Pastor: David L. Brown, Ph.D.

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