Monday, August 5, 2013

The Powerball Jackpot

As I was pumping gas this morning I was subjected to an advertisement encouraging me to play the lottery. After all, the Powerball jackpot as of today is at 400 million! That is a good deal of money even after taxes. But I have never been tempted to play the lottery. I have never spent even one dollar on a lottery ticket. Here are several reasons why:

1. It is statistically the poorest decision you could make with your money. Experts have analyzed the true probability of you winning. The results? If you spend over $100 a week on Powerball tickets you will eventually win the lottery - once every 30,000 years!

2. My reputation is important. As a soldier in the army of God I need to live a life that is above reproach. I could make a good case for why it is not wrong to spend a few dollars here and there on the lottery. The bottom line is that some people would not respect me if I did. I can certainly abstain from something as trivial as a lottery ticket if it hurts my influence.

3. I need to be careful about having the attitude that I want something for nothing, especially something so BIG for literally no work or investment at all. "But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load" (Gal. 6:4-5). Also, "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (2 Thes. 3:10). It is morally good to work and provide. It is morally evil to feel entitled. Constantly looking into getting something for nothing is a selfish way to live and it sets us up for more immoral choices and unbalanced priorities.

4. It is addictive. Let's be honest. It doesn't matter how good you think you are, or what a wonderful Christian you may be - you are also human. Human beings are weak and sinful. Solomon wrote about the lustful woman in Proverbs 7:26 - "For she has cast down many wounded,  and all who were slain by her were strong men." You may have never had an addiction. But gambling is one of the worst kinds of addictions and it can ruin your life and the lives of everyone else around you. You are not untouchable. So don't play with fire.

5. The feeling of winning is not genuine. One of the main thrusts of lottery advertising is the accentuation of the feeling that comes with victory. But face it. You didn't work for it. You didn't earn it. And if you had any kind of moral obligation to the needy how could you feel good about having so much when millions around the world starve to death everyday? On the other hand, there is nothing that compares with the feeling of providing for the ones you love by hard and honest work that has been well-earned through sweat, sacrifice, and dedication. To work so as to give will bring true rejoicing (Acts 20:35). This fulfills our purpose and makes all of the things we struggle through worth while.

These principles apply to more than just a senseless and temporal activity like the lottery. They translate to our entire Christian walk. I guess I will have to live with the fact that I will never have 400 million dollars. You know what? I think I am good with that.

"If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?" ~ Luke 16:11

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