Lotto, Game of Chance, and Christianity: Can They Really Go Together?

Thousands of people are lining up in many outlets because the prize at stake is not just hundreds of millions but one billion pesos, that is, one with nine zeros (almost nineteen million US dollars). Any winner could be an instant billionaire if they will join this game of chance called lottery. What is this lottery all about?

How did it all started?

The first record of lottery in the Roman myth can be found in the story of Hector, a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter. The challenging question, “Who shall fight Hector, the prince of Troy” loomed all over the land. Each Roman soldier wrote their name on a paper chit then place it in a hat. A lottery was drawn where one chit was selected with that soldier’s name who will eventually fight Hector.

In the Scripture, we can also see how the the disciples cast lots to replace the position of Judas. (1) The fact of the matter is there was no money involve in drawing or casting lots when decisions are done. When the philosopher Augustus started to involve money as he started a new form of lottery system this pave the way for people to pay an amount to the treasury to get their names in the draw.

In the middle ages, they upgraded the lottery system. The amount gathered by means of the lottery will be equally divided between the two: the winner and the government welfare that helps the society. Writer and researcher Seema Gupta explains,

“King Francis I of France introduce the first big lottery in 1539. Queen Elizabeth I followed suit and, in 1566 England also declared its first lottery. There were 40,000 tickets to each lottery draw costing 10,000 shillings each. These lottery gained popularity since they were promoted for charity. Though a lottery is a gamble, but the clean and charitable motives advertised by the brokers freed the participants from any guilt of gambling. And it showed too.” (2)

If a believer would really like to help the poor, then he can course his donation to a number of non-profit charitable institution like Real Life, World Vision, Compassion International, Salvation Army, Mercy Ship, Operation Blessings, Missions Without Border, and others. Are we aspiring the money of the people? I hope we will not try to hide under the cloak of “charity works” by trying to justify our action.

There was this news before of an individual a few years back when he literally won a game of chance. He bought a huge house, hire bodyguards, took a vacation around the world, and donated a basketball court to their own baranggay then afterwards ended up in poverty with an outstanding debt.

There are probably some who invested so much on everything but because they lack the necessary experience in handling money also ended up loosing what they already have.

What happened?

There are possible consequences in relation to quick-rich experiences. A number of them surely develop fear for their lives due to the huge amount of money they now possess. This could possibly lead to endangering themselves through physical harm. This may even result to marriage break ups for husbands and wives due to selfishness and greed. It can also bring emotional damage and behavioural changes to the person because of the enormous amount they won.

The Scripture warns us through the writings of Paul to Timothy,

“Certainly, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people who have set their hearts on getting rich have wandered away from the Christian faith and have caused themselves a lot of grief.”

1 Timothy 6:10, God’s Word Translation

Yes! It is very possible for money to change us.

According to a survey, seventy percent of those who won the lottery ended up in poverty.

Why is this so?

This is because of heart issue. The prophet Jeremiah wrote that our heart is very deceiving. Our lips will try to justify our actions but we cannot hide the real motive of our hearts. There are many people who tried to explain they are doing this to help their family, be a blessing to other people, and many times even attempt to spiritualize their action by saying they want to advance God’s kingdom.

May the Lord expose the motives of every man’s heart.

The Bible does not say directly that buying lotto tickets is a sin. But you need to examine your heart why you want to do it. There are questions that needs to be answered before buying a lotto ticket.

1. What is your purpose?
2. Why are you not contented with what you are receiving on a monthly basis?
3. Why are you not praying for God to open a door for you to get a job and be promoted?
4. Why are you in a hurry to be rich? Is this reflecting your impatience?
5. How can you explain this is truly for God to use you as a testimony for others?
6. How will this promote hardwork and discipline in accordance to God’s will?
7. Why do you think God will use a game of chance (or luck) to bless you?
8. Can you explain why this action does not promote love of money?
9. How will you explain this desire to get filthy rich quickly is not covetousness?
10. Why do you believe this does not reflect loving Mammon (money) but loving God?
11. How will this practice be a good model to be followed by our young generation today?

Why don’t you carefully consider those questions above. As David prays,

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Psalm 139:23-24, ESV

We are not here to condemn nor judge anyone who lines up for a lotto or lottery ticket. I understand that God can use us to bless many people including church workers especially if we are financially bless.

But is this God’s way to bless us financially?

It is my hope and prayer that we will not depend on luck and chances to make us rich. Whether one admits it or not but anybody who plays any game of chance involving money is trusting in luck. And to place our trust in “luck” is to place our faith on an imaginary Hindu goddess named “Lakshmi” who is the goddess of prosperity and luck. Will you place your trust on an imaginary vain idol or the God of the Bible who knows how to bless His people?

May our hope be always in God who divinely blesses and promotes His people making us contented in every way.

Biblical References:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Jeremiah 17:9, ESV

 “A hard-working farmer has plenty to eat. People who waste time will always be poor. Honest people will lead a full, happy life. But if you are in a hurry to get rich, you are going to be punished.”

Proverbs 28:19-20, GNB

“If you make gifts to rich people or oppress the poor to get rich, you will become poor yourself.”

Proverbs 22:16, GNB

“Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.” 

Hebrews 13:5, ESV

“And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.'”

Luke 12:15, ESV

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Matthew 6:24, ESV

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:11-13

Footnotes:

(1) Acts 1:24-26

(2) Seema Gupta, “Origin of 101 Everyday Things: Interesting Anecdotes of their Origin,” (Self-published, July 6, 2005)

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