by Shawn Brasseaux
Should Christians play the lottery and gamble at a casino? Some Christians see nothing wrong with these types of activities, yet other Christians refrain from them. There is no explicit command in the Bible, “Thou shalt not gamble or play the lottery.” Nevertheless, would God approve of Christians gambling and playing the lottery? Let us look at the Holy Scriptures for enlightenment regarding this issue.
Money is not evil. We need money to purchase the basic necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. The Bible says, “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10 KJV). Why do people gamble and play the lottery? It is a means to get rich quick. “The love of money” has ensnared those who participate in the lottery and casino industries. It is this “love of money” that is evil.
If someone wants to support his/her expensive lifestyle, the Bible says “work,” not gamble (2 Thessalonians 3:8-12). Weekly lottery playing, though not as often as daily gambling, is still a habit (notice the adjective weekly). At this point, money becomes a problem. Let us look at two verses:
1 Corinthians 6:12 KJV: “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 10:23 KJV: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”
Today, in the Dispensation of Grace, we are not under Israel’s Mosaic Law (Romans 6:14,15; Galatians 5:1). God has not given us a bunch of “dos and don’ts.” That is legalism, and legalism is the enemy of grace (Romans 11:6). In 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 1 Corinthians 10:23, we read “all things are lawful.”
There may not be an explicit command—do this or do not do that—“but all things are not expedient [helpful, profitable].” In other words, this no rule “thou shalt not gamble,” but gambling is not “helpful”/“expedient” because it can is addictive and destructive (1 Corinthians 6:12 refers to addiction when it says “brought under the power of” something). “All things edify not” (all things do not strengthen; that is, some are harmful).
Let us go back to 1 Timothy chapter 6. That is a good passage about the topic of Christians and finances:
“5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
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.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”
Rich people, even Christians, can potentially fall into “temptation and a snare” verse 9 says, which will “drown men in destruction and perdition.” Verse 11 says to “flee” the love of money, “flee” covetousness, etc. Verse 7 says it all—no matter how much material treasure we store up on earth or hope to gain here on earth, we will be leaving it all behind at death. That is why we should focus on things we cannot lose—the spiritual blessings we have in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)!