Is gambling a sin? Does the Bible address this issue? What can we learn from the Bible as to whether gambling is a sin or not?
Decide for Yourself
I am going to provide you with some Bible verses and see if you can decide for yourself whether you believe that gambling is a sin or not. I hope you will read the following Bible verses to determine whether you think it is okay for a believer to gamble or if it can lead a person astray and cause them to stumble. If you can reach a decision after reading these Bible verses then I feel that the Holy Spirit has spoken to you about this question, but if not, I will give you my personal opinion based upon the Bible verses as to whether I think it is a sin for a Christian to gamble or not.
The Uncertainty of Riches
First Timothy 6:17-19 “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
Money can compete with God in our life and take His place because money can take care of our needs and we can then put our trust in money instead of God. The rich are commanded, not given a suggestion, “to be generous and [be] willing to share” with the poor. If they do this then “they will lay up treasure for themselves” in the kingdom of God. To put our hope in money and not in God is a risk that those who seek and pursue riches can fall into and should not be willing to go. Money can come and go but trusting in God will always be there for us.
You Cannot Afford to Hoard
James 5:1-6 “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.”
James is saying that our money can “testify against us” because we can “hoard wealth.” James compares the rich to those who “have fattened [themselves] in the day of slaughter” like cattle are fattened for the purpose of being consumed. It is not a sin to be rich but the sin is in failing to pay those who work for you what they are due. Many a ministry is supported by those who are rich so it is not sin to be rich but James is not talking about those who support the work of God but those who hoard money just so they can live “on earth in luxury and self-indulgence” and he warns them “of the misery that is coming upon” them on the day of judgment.
The Deceitfulness of Riches
Matthew 13:22 “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”
Jesus spoke about riches very frequently and in the Parable of the Sower He showed that those “who received the seed that fell among the thorns [are those] who hear the word, but the…deceitfulness of wealth choke it [out], making it unfruitful.” The seed is the word of God and the thorns are the riches that can kill the seed from taking root in a person’s life and choke out the possibility of receiving eternal life. Many a rich person has heard the word of God but they feel they have no need for it because they have everything they need in their wealth and that is why “the deceitfulness of wealth [can] choke” the seed out.
Wisdom over Wealth
Second Chronicles 1:11-12 “God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”
Solomon may have been the wisest man that ever lived (next to Christ) and this may have been due to the fact that he sought wisdom and knowledge and did not ask “for wealth, riches or honor.” Because Solomon asked for godly wisdom, God gave it to him but He also gave him what he did not ask for; wealth. Solomon set his heart on godly wisdom and not wealth, something that we should do, and God gave him great wisdom but also gave him possibly the greatest wealth that any man has ever had. That is because he made wisdom his priority and not riches. That is true wisdom.
How Much is Enough?
Ecclesiastes 5:10 “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.”
Money is like a drug addiction…the more you make the more you desire and you are never satisfied with enough. The multimillionaire, John D. Rockefeller, was once asked the question, “How much money is enough?” He answered quite transparently, “Just a little bit more” because the rich are never satisfied. A person that loves money will never be satisfied because they will always want “Just a little bit more.” After Rockefeller died, a person asked “How much did he leave behind?” The answer is “All of it!”
By now I hope you have read enough to see that it is not riches that is sin but it is the relentless pursuit of riches. Money can become an idol and relying on wealth can take the place of relying on God. Personally, I believe that gambling is a sin because it creates a desire for wealth and if or when we do win, we are taking money from others by not earning it honestly. Some gamble just for fun and commit to only spend so much money and if their conscience doesn’t bother them then I won’t judge them but how many can say that they are gambling and not secretly or inwardly desire to hit it big? We have a local casino and unfortunately too many spend money that is better spent on family needs. Riches are deceitful. People who pursue money can become addicted to it like drugs. There is not command in the Bible saying “Thou shalt not gamble” but to me, it is just too much of a danger, not only in pursing riches, but in gambling for money and it is a gamble I am not willing to take. How about you?
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon