You bet!

When people ask me if it is wrong to buy a lottery ticket, I suggest that they ask a different question, namely, “Is it wise to buy a lottery ticket?”

The issue is always with us, since about half of us buy tickets. But lately the lottery has been highlighted with the multi-million dollar payouts advertised, and the reality that we are spending, as a nation, about $300 for every adult, to buy lottery tickets each year. That’s over 70 billion dollars, “BILLION with a B,” and amounts to more than we spend on books, movies, sports tickets, and music combined.

So, is it wise for a Christian to risk a little for a lot? Is it a good thing for us to do? Is it something that commends Christian character and principles? Let’s ask the question four different ways. . .

First, is it wise to risk money on a venture which is calculated to lose? Think about it. Lotteries would not exist if the states did not make money. For that to happen, the players have to lose. What are the odds, you ask? One article put it like this: Imagine a row of baseballs stretching along the road from Boston to Los Angeles. There will be over 65 million of them. Now, drive along, and at some point, stop the car at random, and choose one ball. If you think it wise to take those odds, then buy a ticket.

Second, is it wise to play a game that means that everyone else has to lose? The only money you can win is what others lose. And even sadder is that the poorest of the poor spend about nine percent of their meager incomes on lottery tickets. At the very least, you are seeking to win people’s grocery and rent money. For you it may be discretionary “fun money,” but the “winnings” come from poor families and compulsive gamblers whose delusion is to think the lottery is a passport out of poverty. If that’s the way you want to make money, fine. But is it wise to take it from others, even when they give it willingly?

Third, is it wise to risk your soul pursuing wealth? Jesus warned against setting our hearts on earthly treasure, and the Apostle Paul admonished Timothy to tell his flock that “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition,” 1 Timothy 6:9 (NKJV). What is playing the lottery apart from the fantasy of becoming rich? Can that be wise?

Finally, is it wise to side with our popular culture in seeking something for nothing, over against our Lord’s commands to work and to be good stewards of our possessions?

So, first decide if it is wise. If it is, then go buy that ticket.

“If any of you lacks wisdom,
let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach,
and it will be given him.”
James 1:5

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