Last night was one of the biggest lottery drawings in history. An individual had a chance to get a pay out of over 300 million dollars. By the way, I cannot say that without accenting it like Dr. Evil’s meeellion dollars.
Having that much money scares me to death, to be honest. Too many decisions and responsibility. However, it could do a lot of good for my family and a lot of organizations I care about so I’ve been debating whether or not I should play.
Historically, I’ve blanketed the lottery as gambling and therefore bad. I voted against the SC lottery in the 90’s. However, I then proceeded to benefit from it with the the SC Life scholarship in college. It felt hypocritical in some way even though I didn’t ask for the scholarship as it is based on grades.
As I’ve batted this around in my head, I thought I’d work it out here and perhaps we’d come out with some good discussion.
Reasons against the lottery:
- You gamble your money when you buy a ticket. Gambling is bad. Therefore, the lottery is bad.
- I know of people whose lives and families are terribly ruined by an addiction to gambling and I don’t want my money to support it.
- Contrary to popular belief, money usually makes things more complicated, not easier and it’s not the be-all end-all solution to people’s problems as they believe. Have you seen the horror stories of people going into debt, descending into crime and even being stalked and killed after winning? This is no good.
Reason for lottery:
- The state and its residents benefit from the money as I was with my college scholarship. This is good.
- Much benefit can be made for the winners of the lottery and those around them. Scott said “Someone has to win, shouldn’t it be us who would do something good with it versus someone else?” Good point, husband.
- Even though the lottery can cause addiction, we don’t quit drinking Mountain Dew, eating Taco Bell or taking cold medicine because it has the capacity to do the same. That logic doesn’t stick when you start applying it to other things. Furthermore, 401K is basically gambling your money too and no one seems to have a problem with that.
- The Bible is wrought with decisions being made by chance. People often casted lots to make decisions.
- Contrary to the belief I’ve held for so long, the Bible never clearly talks about gambling as a sin. Or, I haven’t found one since researching this. Someone please direct me to one.
Given that logic, I still feel up in the air about it. While it can do a lot of harm, it also can do a lot of good.
Let’s see if we can put a wider lens on the topic. While the Bible does not condemn the lottery directly, it does give lots of information on how we should view work and money. Let’s see how those might apply:
- Most want to win the lottery so they don’t have to work. The Bible does not look favorably on lazy people.
- I know it sounds nice to retire permanently to a private island, but we cannot carry out the Great Commission living a life like that (darn it!).
- Coveting is a sin and often, we want to win the lottery to have what others have instead of being grateful for what we already have.
- Getting money often makes you more greedy and materialistic, not less. Love of money is the root of all evil. However, money itself isn’t the root of all evil.
- Proven: gambling can become an addiction. We should not be slaves to anyone but the Lord.
- We are supposed to be good stewards of our money. Is it wise to give money to a lottery where we often will have no direct benefit? Wouldn’t it be wiser to make a direct, personal impact to either our own college savings or someone needy around us? However, we are directed to take care of the poor and needy with our resources and winning could certainly help fund many good deeds.
Given all that, might I suggest it comes down to the heart? Why is that you want to play and win? Is it really to help others or is it rooted in greed, covetousness, laziness or addiction? Are you prepared to steward the money well?
I truly believe God can use any single thing he wants to accomplish his desires and if He leads a Christian to play and win in order to accomplish good, then rock on.
The bottom line is we must check our intent and ultimately, live out the command to live by the Spirit in all things. Did you pray about playing? What did the Spirit lead you to do?
What does this mean for me? I think I’ll be sitting the lotto out until I get clear direction to play.
- I do have a very obsessive and addictive personality and I don’t need one more thing to battle.
- As much as I say and have plans to help others, I can be quite greedy when it comes to money and I think getting that much would just fuel it.
- I believe that much money would just add more stress to my life, not make it easier. Just the thought of someone killing me for my money scares me away. I’ve already been stolen from with what I have and it’s really not something I want to experience in any capacity in the future.
- I would rather direct my money somewhere that I know is helpful rather than leaving it up to a group to decide where it might be helpful to me in the future. If you don’t think $2 is a big deal, did you know $1 can give someone water for an entire year?
What insights do YOU have? What did I miss? Why do you play or not? Let’s discuss!
denise vick says
I have played the lottery but as a general rule, don’t. Didn’t this time although I kept thinking I’d buy a ticket “just in case”. I know Southern Baptists consider it to be wrong, but I have never felt that much conviction about it. Why is it any different than buying a raffle ticket? BUT, if I did win big, I would build a home for foster children in my county. (that’s after I bought a house at Garden City.)
I think it’s just one of those areas that you have to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It might be wrong for you even though it might be okay for someone else. It’s like drinking alcohol. And I won’t even go there.
Agreed, Denise! I think we all have certain pitfalls that we need to avoid even if others don’t!
I don’t know what my church says about it but I don’t play. Mostly because i know that I can give that dollar to a person and it will make a difference, that day. So I would rather go for a sure thing. But I understand why poor people play. I have two workers – one a homeless vet who volunteers with us and one a welfare mom who is doing this to get her check. They are both far and above better than the masters level interns, no kidding. They are good people in hard times, raised in poverty, with no clear way out. If they had money they would play. They told me what they would do with the winnings – a home, car, but also invest in this organization and their city. And I believe them and I see why it would make a huge difference to them. That dollar lets them dream and frankly, they have no big dreams. The world closes in and takes one every day. So while I understand it, I wish we spent that money on shelters and job training. I see so much need now and I wish I could fix it.
Liz, I have to confess I didn’t write this with much consideration to someone’s income, really just whether it was “right” or not to play once the lottery is in place. That said, I do understand why poor people play too and I think that’s part of what bugs me and part of why I voted against it. I feel like more than anyone, their money could be directed to something which would make a bigger difference in the moment. Often, it’s day by day and even a few dollars makes a difference. The lottery provides a hope, but for the majority, it’s a false hope. One of those verses talks about a person becomes wealthy, little by little. I think we know that, but I know people that are poor that don’t understand that so they waste the little not realizing you become rich by wisely using the little you do have over and over. At the end of the day, I guess it doesn’t make a difference what they’re wasting their money on if they don’t see the solution is to use it wisely. I’m speaking for the people I know, not the ones you spoke of which sound like they might be wiser. Speaking of, where are you working to meet these people?
I’m at a social services agency in a really poor town. Ironically, people have summer houses there – but the year long residents can’t afford the beach they are steps from! (You have to pay to get on beaches here).
It’s my new job, part of my social work grad degree. It’s eye opening. I thought I understood poverty, and I really don’t. No easy answers.
MK Jorgenson says
“Even though the lottery can cause addiction, we don’t quit drinking Mountain Dew, eating Taco Bell or taking cold medicine because it has the capacity to do the same. That logic doesn’t stick when you start applying it to other things. Furthermore, 401K is basically gambling your money too and no one seems to have a problem with that.”
Best thing I’ve read all day. Hands down.
My husband and I buy a ticket when we notice the jackpot is really big (like, big enough to be on the news and in the papers for days leading up to it), usually about twice a year. It’s kind of an event for us: we load up the kids in the stroller, walk to the gas station, get snacks and a ticket, and spend the whole night talking about what we would do if we won, which leads to talking about money and goals and such in the here and now. Inevitably we forget to watch for the numbers and find in the morning that we haven’t won. It’s worth a dollar (or two, now) to us for a night of dreaming.
MK Jorgenson recently posted…Twitterature :: September
I think it depends on motive.
Having multi millions of dollars
You make yourself more comfortable in life. And others lives also.
God wants Us happy healthy
He wants is to help others.
It’s all in your motive an attitude.
The lottery is actually a way God has provided Where everybody throws in some money Knowing that only one or two will win it. And they’re okay with that. Or they would not do it. Time and chance happens to everyone the Bible says. Money will make any buddies like better if they use wisdom. Make many other people’s lives better also. There’s absolutely no way to plan the lottery could be wrong. If someone wins money and use the fall asleep that’s their problem and salt. You could make your life a lot better and there’s nothing wrong with that. You could get rid of anger stress frustration…Kind of negative thoughts and feelings For yourself and others. You could afford all the good food that God wants you to eat. Instead of making hamburger 500 different ways. Money is what people need to better their lives. You would be able to live a healthier lifestyle….Food travel Comfortable furniture Lighten Many burdens left a lot of loads
Make a lot of people happy help them
Get rid of a lot of stress.
Don’t look at it is winning the lottery look at it as winning money to help yourself and others have a better happier life what’s wrong with that
As a Christian, I wasted many years wondering about this. So I decided to look for myself by searching the Bible. I couldn’t find anywhere in the Bible where I can clearly states that playing the lottery is a sin. It’s not in there. Some people states that the Bible says the love of money is wrong. I think what the word is stating here is this…If you are willing to sell your body or your first born child for money, then you have a problem. If you are willing to lie, kill and steal to gain money; then you have a problem because you are clearly more in love with money. In 2011, my husband and I along with our four year old daughter moved to California. My husband returned to college and I was the only working adult in the family. I have a decent career and I was making close to $100,000 a year. We were dealing with some rough time, but we were doing ok. On May 20th of 2012, I became ill and on May 30th, I learned that I was pregnant. (I was told that I couldn’t have anymore children) Anyway, two months into the pregnancy, I became very ill and the doctor placed me on bedrest I was devestated. How would we survive because I used our saving to move from the East Coast and I was living from pay check to pay check. The state of California gave me 60% of my income, but we really hit rock bottom. For the first time, I knew what it felt like to be afraid of being on the street. I was always late on my rent and they finally kicked us out. Today, I wonder if I had played the lottery just maybe I would have won enough to keep my family afloat. I think motives of the heart matters more to God. I now play the lottery at least twice a week and I make sure I do it on a budget. So If I win, it will be because the Lord choose to bless me because I refuse to spend $100 a month on the lottery.