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Wages of Gambling
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"Work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing" (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12).

It’s only a $17.95 processing fee and I might win the sweepstakes—I’m not gambling, am I? What’s wrong with a lottery ticket? Gambling’s a harmless entertainment. No problem! The statistics say otherwise. In the U.S. alone, with more than two thirds of the population playing the odds and more than 15 million problem and pathological gamblers, the impact is huge. What’s wrong with gambling?

Cigarettes, alcohol, and narcotics are addictive; they trigger a mind-altering connection between the substance and the reduction of pain, feelings of pleasure, or the excitement of an adrenaline rush. It feels good! And bingo! (Excuse the pun.) Before the person realizes what’s happening, they’ve got to have another—and another. But second or third doses are sooner and/or larger—and the user begins sinking into an addiction that willpower alone usually can’t overcome. Not every person succumbs to this chemical connection. But until you’re trapped  you don’t really know if you have the at-risk gene or not!


It’s the same with gambling. Casual gambling often triggers an observation and addiction similar to that of drugs. Compulsive gamblers report an adrenaline rush from the anticipation and excitement of “throwing the dice.” And the stage is set for associated evils: bankruptcy, theft, drugs, family violence, divorce, suicide, and criminal activities. In the words of George Washington: “Gambling is the child of avarice, the brother of iniquity, and the father of mischief.”

Gambling is a “legitimated theft” that takes from the poor and makes a few people rich—a selfish principle completely at odds with Jesus’ call for mutual love and support. Early Christians shared their material possessions (see Acts 2:45). “Thou shalt not covet” means not wanting to have what belongs to others—which is exactly what gamblers want! Ephesians 5:5 reminds us that no covetous person has an inheritance in the kingdom of God. And putting one’s trust in a random chance contradicts the Christian’s trust in God as the giver of all good and perfect gifts.

The counsel of Charles Simeon, a nineteenth-century American clergyman, still rings true: “The best throw with the dice is to throw them away.”

Lord, help me to be a good steward of the time and money that You have given me. Amen. 

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By John Gallagher and Kay Kuzma. Excerpted from Fit Forever, compiled by Kay Kuzma, copyright © 2005 by Review & Herald Publishing. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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