Mark, a third-year student at the university, found himself introduced to sports betting by friends during his first year on campus. Initially, he bet small amounts on weekends for leisure, experiencing occasional wins that fueled his excitement. However, temptation arose when he heard about someone winning a substantial sum through betting. Mark's tuition money, recently received from home, became a target for his betting ambitions. Despite a few wins, his tuition funds diminished rapidly, and he became desperate to recover the money.
Seeking advice from so-called experts and analyzing football fixtures, he placed his final bet with the hope of winning back his tuition. Tragically, he lost it all and felt devastated, contemplating how to face his struggling mother. He had to borrow money to replace the lost tuition and vowed never to gamble again after witnessing the pain it caused his family. Mark's story serves as a cautionary tale against the dangers of gambling, as many young people often fall into its grip, leading to their ruin.
The Bible does not explicitly mention gambling or betting, but it does provide principles and teachings that guide us on how to approach various aspects of life, including matters related to money and possessions. As we explore what the Bible says about betting, it becomes evident that the underlying message warns against the potential dangers and pitfalls associated with it. Let us delve into some key scriptural references that shed light on this topic.
1. The Priority of God in Our Lives
The first commandment in the Bible emphasizes that we should have no other gods before the one true God (Exodus 20:3-5). God demands our affection, devotion, and worship, and gambling can distract us from this central focus. When we prioritize money and material gain over our relationship with God, it becomes a form of idolatry. Instead of trusting in chance and luck, the Bible calls us to put our faith and trust in God alone.
2. Avoiding Slavery to Anything Other than God
The apostle Paul reminds the Corinthians that although everything may be permissible, not everything is beneficial, and he will not be mastered by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12). Trusting in gambling as a means of sustenance can lead to a form of addiction and bondage, where money and the pursuit of wealth become the dominant force in one's life. Instead, believers are encouraged to find their ultimate master and provider in Jesus Christ.
3. Placing Hope in God, Not Chance
The Bible repeatedly encourages us to put our hope in God rather than in temporal and uncertain things (Psalm 42:5, 11). Gambling often offers the illusion of hope and quick riches, but true hope comes from our trust in God's promises and His faithfulness. Relying on games of chance for financial security is a precarious path, and the Bible invites us to seek God as the true source of our hope and sustenance.
4. Emphasizing Diligence and Hard Work
Proverbs 28:19-20 highlights the importance of hard work and diligence in providing for our needs. God designed us to work for a living, taking responsibility for our provision and the well-being of others. Engaging in gambling can lead to a mindset of seeking shortcuts and instant wealth, which can have negative consequences and hinder us from enjoying God's blessings through honest labour.
5. Trusting in God's Provision
As believers, we are called to trust that God is sufficient to meet all our needs (Philippians 4:19). By faithfully living a life of obedience, tithing, and giving to those in need, we can rely on God's promises to provide for us abundantly. Gambling can tempt us to seek instant gratification and undermine our faith in God's faithfulness.
6. The Treasure of Our Hearts
Jesus warns us in Matthew 6:21 that our hearts follow our treasures. If our treasure is in gambling and the pursuit of wealth, our hearts may drift away from God and the things that truly matter. The love of money can easily become a snare, drawing us away from God's plan for our lives and causing us to neglect what is genuinely valuable and eternal.
7. Rejecting Covetousness and Cultivating Contentment
Scripture cautions us against “covetousness” (Deuteronomy 5:21) and encourages “contentment” (Philippians 4:11-12). Engaging in gambling can foster a covetous spirit, where the desire for wealth and possessions becomes all-consuming. Instead, the Bible urges us to find contentment in Christ and be thankful for what we have, recognizing that godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6).
Warning Against Loving Money
The Bible strongly warns against the “love of money”, as it can lead people astray and cause many troubles (1 Timothy 6:10). Gambling, which often revolves around the pursuit of money, can easily lead individuals into the trap of greed and materialism. The desire to get rich quickly can bring about foolish and harmful desires that lead to ruin and destruction (1 Timothy 6:9).
While the Bible does not directly address gambling or betting, it provides us with essential principles that guide our approach to money, possessions, and the pursuit of wealth. As Christians, we are encouraged to prioritize our relationship with God, trust in His provision, and avoid the love of money.
Instead of seeking shortcuts to riches, we should embrace hard work, contentment, and the hope that comes from a deep faith in God's promises. By following these principles, we can navigate the complexities of financial decisions with wisdom and integrity, bringing honor to God in all aspects of our lives.