Thinking Through the Lottery

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Thinking Through the Lottery

On January 17, 2016, Posted by , In Christian Living,Family,Finance,Gambling,Research, With No Comments

Do you find yourself tempted by the prospects of winning big? Theologian John Piper discourages Christians from playing the lottery, saying it “preys on the poor”. The Consumerist reports Americans with annual take-home incomes of $13,000 or less spend an average of 9% — or up to $645 — of their income on lottery tickets each year. Piper believes playing the lottery could jeopardize your well-being — a spiritual suicide, if you will. 1 Timothy 6:9-10 says, “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.”

Just as faithful trustees may not gamble with a trust fund, we are caretakers of our money which actually belongs to God. “Managers don’t gamble with their masters’ money.” All you have belongs to God. All of it!

Don’t embezzle from God. Jesus taught in the parable of the talents that He will take account of how we handle His money. He taught His followers to work (Matthew 25:16-17). That’s also how we should provide for ourselves (1 Corinthians 4:12, 1 Thessalonians 4:11, Ephesians 4:28)! People often enter lotteries lured by the possibility of winning it big. Yet their chances of hitting the jackpot are often very minute! “You take real money and buy with it a chance.” said Piper, “That chance is so infinitesimally small that the dollar is virtually lost… The smaller amounts paid out more often are like a fog to keep you from seeing what is happening.”

The system is built on the necessity of most people losing. Lotteries are like Las Vegas casinos “without any of the glamour or glitz,” but the ‘house’ controls the action; the players will all eventually lose.

Piper says that Americans who play the lottery are being taught to be “fools” in that 21% of people surveyed by the Opinion Research Corporation felt that the lottery was a practical way to accumulate wealth. “If the $500 per year that American households throw away on the lottery on average annually were invested in an index fund for 20 years, each family would have $24,000. Not maybereally!”  For the sake of quick money, government undermines the virtue it cannot survive without. Piper quotes from First Things, a journal on religion and public life: “A government that raises money by encouraging and exploiting the weaknesses of its citizens escapes that democratic mechanism of accountability.”

Finally Piper offers, “Christ does not build His church on the backs of the poor. Pray that God’s people will be so satisfied in Him that they will be freed from the greed that makes us crave to get rich.”

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