The Simple Gospel
"Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men" Romans 12:17.
The word gambling is not in the Bible, but the word covet is and it is condemned, Luke 12:15, "And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." Hebrews 13:5 "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
One may wish to argue that gambling is not covetousness because all the parties involved agree to the wager. An agreement by both parties to be covetous does not lessen the fact that gambling is covetous. Mutual agreement does not legitimize sin. If mutual agreement could legitimize then dueling would legitimize murder because both parties mutually agree that each will have have equal opportunity to murder the other.
God has condemned murder and that includes dueling. He has condemned adultery and that includes open marriages. He has condemned covetousness and that includes gambling. God has not allowed an exception if these sins are committed under a mutual opportunity agreement.
Today a type of Robin Hood mentality has motivated many state governments and even some churches to operate some type of gambling activity. States manage lotteries and churches operate bingo games to raise revenues for their programs. It is a take from the needy to give to the greedy program. It takes from those greedy enough to play and gives to those who operate the games.
The argument is made that the revenues will be used to fund programs, such as education. Because such programs are deemed worthy many conclude that the end justifies the means. Similar reasoning convinced Eve to violate God's command, Genesis 3:6. Neither mutual agreement nor funding a worthy program can change the fact that covetousness is a sin.
Introduction: It seems that everywhere you turn today you see an increased emphasis on gambling. Everywhere you turn you see signs of it. From betting on a college football game to selling raffle tickets to raise money, gambling seems to be the new national pastime. Recently the Alabama Education Association threw its support behind legalized gambling in the state of Alabama. How sad it is when educators who should have great interest in the moral development of children, throw their support behind a measure that will further the criminal element, destroy the moral fiber of society and promote that which is contrary to the LAW OF GOD.
The problem of gambling is widespread. The Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan made an extensive survey that revealed that in 1974 two out of three Americans made a bet and that more than 30 billion dollars was being gambled away every year in the United States. Paul Fino, a United States congressman from New York estimated that 57% of American adults gamble. I'm told that the total taken in by gambling is greater than the combined profits of US Steel, General Motors and General Electric and more than 100 of the largest manufacturing companies. A 1983 issue of US News & World Report stated that a survey of 100,000 gamblers revealed that the total bets totaled more than 1/3 of the Gross National Product--more than a trillion dollars annually. That comes to about $4,500 for every person. The 30 billion mentioned earlier would just be legalized gambling. A 1982 Gallop Poll revealed that 60% of all adults gamble and 80% endorse legal gambling.
Gambling is now legalized in twenty-six states. This figure will no doubt, increase in the near future. As the problem increases so does our responsibility to deal with it.
1 Thessalonians 5:22, "Abstain from all appearance of evil."
It is not a new problem by any means. The Greeks in Homers' time had knucklebones from sheep and goats that were marked to serve as dice. A gambling board was discovered in Crete that dates back to 1800-1900 BC. In Babylon, headless arrows were used for making wagers. Children in Rome played "heads or tales" with coins. Tertullian said, "If you say that you are a Christian when you are a dice player, you say what you are not, because you are a partner with the world."
Whether it is flipping for a coke or pitching pennies, matching quarters or buying $500.00 worth of lottery tickets, it is gambling. Many Christians sincerely ask, "Is there any thing wrong with gambling?"
I. What Is Gambling?
Webster defines gambling as (1) to play a game for money or property--to bet on the uncertain outcome. The World Book Dictionary says, "To play games of chance for money or other valuable stakes--to gamble at cards; to gamble on the result of a race." The World Book Encyclopedia states: "Gamblers usually bet money or something else of value as a stake on the outcome they predict. When the outcome is settled, the winner collects the loser's stakes."
B. What gambling is not.
II. Why Is Gambling a Sin?
The very existence of Gamblers Anonymous suggest that many are addicted to gambling. The apostle Paul affirmed that he would not allow anything to have that kind of power over him.
1 Corinthians 6:12, "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."
B. Gambling is covetousness.
Gambling involves an inordinate desire to gain without giving something of equal value. It seeks to get at the expense of others. The gambler is willing for others to lose all their time, effort and money in order to win. A Christian must not be covetous. Paul says that covetousness is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5, "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:"
Paul warned the young gospel preacher Timothy about this sin.
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."
One who gambles does not show true love for those with whom he gambles, for he is willing to take all they have if the uncertain event turns in his favor. If the other fellow loses, that's his tough luck. Just as dueling in murder by consent, gambling is theft by consent. Just because two parties agree to duel doesn't mean that it wouldn't be murder. Jesus said, "And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matthew 22:39).
The apostle Paul teaches that we should seek the welfare of others. He said, "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth" (1 Corinthians 10:24).
The gambler also violates the most basic rule of human relationships--the golden rule.
Matthew 7:12, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
Gambling involves the philosophy of do it unto him before he does it unto you, rather than do unto others as ye would have them do unto you.
Gambling attracts the criminal element of society. It results in broken homes, theft, and murder. It leaves in its wake starving children and broken-hearted loved ones, and leads to drinking and suicide.
In the early 1950's the Senate Crime Investigating Committee as reported by Senator Estes Kefauver in Crime In America, stated, "gambling produces nothing and adds nothing to the economy or society of our nation. America will be in a bad way if we ever resort to taxing crime and immorality for the purpose of raising revenue to operate our institutions."
These words have proven to be true. Las Vegas reports some 36,000 crimes a year. It has over 100 murders a year. It has the highest crime rate per capita of any city in the United States. Atlantic City has some 4,391 crimes per year before they installed their casinos. After 1980, they reported 11,899 crimes. The Reno police department says that 75% of the embezzlement cases are related to gambling. Suicides for gamblers are up 12-15% above the national average.
Gambling is directly connected with drinking, theft, broken homes, neglected children and murder. George Washington said, "It is the child of avarice, the brother of iniquity, the father of mischief." Jimmy the Greek said, "When you put legalized gambling into a community, you ruin the community." Some ex-gamblers state in the Gamblers Anonymous guidebook, "The greatest loss that resulted from our gambling was neither time nor money, which are gone forever, but our sense of values."
The FBI lists gambling as one of the six selected dangers hurtful to young people. J. Edgar Hoover said, "Gambling is a vicious evil, it corrupts our youth and blights the lives of adults. It becomes the springboard for other crimes--embezzlement, robbery and even murder."
Jesus said, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:20)
There are three basic means of transfer of money or property that are approved by the Bible. Gambling does not fit any one of the three.
F. It is illegal (Probably). If so, it is sin.
Conclusion: We live in a world that is increasingly lax on the subject of gambling. Many think that since gambling is not mentioned in the Bible, there is nothing wrong with it. This simply is not true. Nowhere in the Bible do you read the words rape, suicide, larceny, bootlegging, and child pornography. This does not allow us to conclude that these things are legitimate and all right in the sight of God. GAMBLING IS A SIN! It must be treated as such. If not, our children will continue to sell raffle tickets and some will continue to buy them. In doing so, they will violate the law of God and answer for it in the day of judgment.
Frost, Gene, Words Of Life, pp. 1-3. December 13, 1987.
Rader, Donnie V. , Accepted of Him. Article published in Searching The Scriptures, vol. 29, pp. 280-282, 303-304. 1988.
e-mail this author at BFJM@aol.com
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