There are multiple references in the bible that indicate gambling was practiced eons ago. From dice games to lotteries to betting on specific events and outcomes — gambling was evidently part of life in biblical times, yet the word itself isn’t explicitly mentioned within the texts.
When you look at it closer, however, there are verses that inherently imply that love of money and man’s desire to be wealthy through any “quick” means has always been discouraged.
“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” – Timothy 6:9-10
To Gamble is to Covet and Feed Desire
Jesus and his disciples explain numerous times that when humans covet, we are creating a breeding ground for sin and death. And although the tenth commandment talks about coveting thy neighbor’s wife, possessions, land and house — to covet anything, whether it be materials, a person or place, brings lust and envy; in turn driving dissatisfaction and behavior that typically leads to sin. When we earn our keep through honest acts that don’t detract from our own personal convictions, we are opening ourselves up to love, wisdom, freedom and abundance.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law…” – Galatians 5:19-24
Idolizing a False Reality
Anything that promotes gambling or a love for money is perceived as an illusion and a lie throughout the bible. It outlines how people give into such temptations with the hopes that large sums of money and material possessions will bring them a better life. In the holy scriptures, however, God asks man not to idolize money and to obtain it through hard work and honesty. For anyone who chooses to serve money over the Lord will forever be at conflict with the two.
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” – Matthew 6:24
A Life of Contentment Bears Fruit
The bible doesn’t condone the need for man to have money and financial stewardship; it’s one of many keys to survival. It does, however, reiterate the importance of using it for the right purposes, such as caring for family and using it to exercise generosity. Even though gambling is mentioned, both the old and new testament ask that man be content with what he has and not to pursue greed, desire of what others have, or follow through with emotions that impugn the soul.
“What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” – Mark 7:20-23
There is nothing to say that money can’t be used for good in any religious text. As long as there is no personal attachment or love towards it, it doesn’t take away from a person’s life responsibilities, or is obtained wrongfully at others expense — generally it’s OK to splurge a bit from time to time. However, once it goes beyond this and becomes more important to a man than his family, faith and own well being — then it’s time for some serious reconsideration as far as the Lord is concerned.
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” – Mark 8:36
While churches and religious communities have been known to host lotteries and charitable bingo nights, many devout Christians, particularly those with a more conservative attitude, are completely against any form of gambling. Regardless of whether it’s lottos, pari-mutuel racing, roulette, poker, coin tosses, you name it — these games/pastimes are “the fruits of gambling”, which from a Christian perspective elicits crime, corruption, poverty, misery, greed and low standards.
“Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge men into destruction and ruin.” – Timothy 6:9
Is Gambling Really a Sin?
There are no commandments or principles that prohibit the use of illegal drugs or pornography in the bible, but these undoubtedly go against God’s will; encouraging destructive tendencies like addiction, pushing people to the brink of bankruptcy and the breakdown of friendships and families. Gambling is a real problem for many people around the world today, especially when it comes to addiction. Under Peter 2:19, the bible states that “a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.”
This last quote is indisputably true. It’s estimated that over 2 million adults in the U.S. currently have a pathological gambling addiction and close to 6 million are problem gamblers. Not only does this bring a string of consequences, such as job loss, dysfunction in the family, it can even push people to the brink of suicide when substantial sums and debts can’t be paid off.
While it gambling may not be deemed a sin, there is no benefit from any kind of habit or being a slave in this world. The bible indicates there is certainly no place for weak minds who seek material wealth in heaven, for all who follow the right path will be bestowed with all of the treasure they could ever wish for once they arrive.
“Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” – Matthew 6:32-33
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