By Vivian Bricker, Crosswalk.com
"Gambling" is a common term when it comes to sports. Whether individuals are betting on the Super Bowl, horse races, or a college basketball game, there are many concerns that come to mind. Gambling can quickly become an addiction. While many people do not think there is anything wrong with gambling, or they view it as "just a game,” it can have many negative consequences. Not only can you lose a lot of your hard-earned money, but you can also fall into debt that impacts others.
If you are reading this article today, it is probably because you are thinking about gambling sometime in the future. Or maybe it's because you have already gambled and you want to see what the Bible says about it. Nobody can make a choice for you on whether or not you gamble but do try to allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in the matter. Things become dangerous when we start ignoring the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Be more attuned to God and allow Him to direct your steps. Through studying what the Bible says, going to God in prayer, and listening to the gentle guidance of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to see the truth when it comes to gambling. Rather than seeing it as what you've labeled it, you will see it for what God says it is.
Let's consider three reasons Christians shouldn't gamble:
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1. You Cannot Serve Both God and Money
One reason why Christians shouldn't gamble is because people cannot serve both God and money. The Lord tells us, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). As Jesus tells us in this passage, we cannot have two masters. We will be devoted to one and despise the other.
What the Lord is telling us here is that if we have a love for money and make it our master, we will despise God. As Christians, this should convict us to our very souls. We should never want to place anything above God in our lives. By placing money as the most important thing in our life, or as our “love,” we will slowly but surely drift further away from God. If you are considering gambling, pause and reflect on where your heart lies.
Is it with God or is it with money? Most individuals gamble to get more money. Due to winning in the past, they want to go on to play bigger, bet larger, and throw more money on the line. At the end of the day, gambling is fueled by a love for money. Once you make money your master, it can be hard to remove yourself as its servant.
If you already find yourself in a place today where money has become your master, know that there is redemption. Turn to God and ask for His help. He will bring you up out of the miry pits (Psalm 40:1-3). Although you may feel too far gone, know that there is no such thing as "too far gone." You are never too far gone from God as He will always welcome you home with open arms.
All of us will make mistakes in our lives, but it is what we do about these mistakes that matters. Are we going to continue to live a life where we are mastered by a desire for money or are we going to start living a life where God is our true Master? As the Lord tells us, it is impossible to serve two masters. We must choose only one.
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2. It Wastes Money
A second reason Christians shouldn't gamble is because it wastes money. Think about the money you are using to gamble. It is probably money that you earned from your 9-5 job. Don't allow your hard-earned money to be wasted on gambling. The money that you put into gambling could easily be put toward something better, such as your child’s college education, a down payment on a house, or ministry work.
There are other places that your money can go to benefit others. Gambling helps no one. In fact, it doesn't even help the person who is gambling. If they lose, they lose a large amount of money, and if they win, it will only increase their desire to gamble more. Therefore, nothing good can come out of gambling because it will only cause problems. Don't believe the lie that you can stop when you want because it's not that simple when it comes to gambling.
Once you start gambling, it can easily start to take over your life. Instead of using your money on things you need, such as provisions for your family, you will start using every penny to gamble. As you can see, this is not healthy. Gambling will start to cause your entire life to suffer, and it could leave you and your loved ones in a state of poverty.
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3. It's an Addiction
A third reason Christians shouldn't gamble is because it's an addiction. As mentioned above, it can be hard to stop gambling once you've started. Rather than being able to step away from the table after one round, you will find yourself at the table for hours. This is because it's an addiction. While it might not be as apparent as a tobacco or alcohol addiction, it is, nonetheless, a damaging addiction.
As with any addiction, it can cause many problems for the individual as well as their loved ones. Take a look around you. Who are the people who have always been there for you? Maybe it's your parents, your siblings, or your spouse. Know that every time you gamble or bet, you are wasting time that you could have spent with them. Your gambling addiction has caused you to drift away from your family.
Instead of wanting to spend time with your loved ones, you would rather spend time gambling. Consider carefully how you proceed moving forward. If you want to change and step away from a life of gambling, know that it is possible. This can be done through the help of doctors, therapists, and support groups. Know that you are never without hope even if you have gambled for many years.
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Freedom in Christ
There is freedom to be found from addiction, and this freedom is found in Jesus. The Lord does not want you to participate in any addiction, nor does He want an idol to control your life. In a way, any addiction or obsession becomes the idol or “god” of our life. To fully follow God, we must abandon these false gods and idols. We have to be willing to give them up and not look back.
Gambling is not a pretty thing, especially when it turns into an addiction. The best way to prevent yourself from getting addicted to gambling is to not start in the first place. There is nothing positive about gambling nor is it praiseworthy. It will only leave you in poverty, alone, and without hope. Choose today to give up gambling and get any help you may need to fully cleanse yourself from this addiction.
Know that God will help you every step of the way and He will cover you with His faithfulness. When things get hard, turn to Him. Whenever you are tempted to start gambling again, talk to God about it. Ask Him to strengthen you and help you turn away from this habit. God will answer your prayer, and He will help you soar on the wings of an eagle (Isaiah 40:31).
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