Should Churches Accept Lottery Winnings As Offerings?

Should Churches Accept Lottery Winnings As Offerings? October 27, 2016

Should churches accept lottery winnings or winnings from gambling as offerings?

Gambling is Coveting

If gambling is not a sinful activity, why does it ruin the lives of thousands of families? We have a nearby casino that has wrecked the lives of dozens, sending them into bankruptcy, causing divorces, and creating gambling addictions that are nearly impossible to break. The Bible doesn’t expressly say, “You shall not gamble” but the concept is there in Scripture. Solomon understood the risks of pursing money as he asked God to “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Prov 30:8-9). The Apostle Paul said “if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1st Tim 6:8). Why gamble with your future? Some come to the casino to spend a set amount of money and they do it strictly for entertainment purposes, but when the fun starts to turn to “I must,” it can become such a powerful addiction that it becomes an obsession instead of simply entertainment.

The Love of Money

Let’s be clear about this. Gambling institutions are in it to make money, meaning that the overwhelming majority are going to lose while only a tiny percentage will win. They make money from the fact that almost everyone who gambles will lose more than they win. Even if a person wins, is it really “free money?” Didn’t their winnings come at the expense of the vast majority who lost? Shouldn’t we be content with what we have (Heb 13:5)? The love of money can lead to all sorts of evil as the Apostle Paul writes, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1st Tim 6:10). Jesus once explained what money can do in the Parable of the Sower, saying that “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Matt 13:22). In other words, money becomes their god. They serve it, they sacrifice to it, but ultimately, they are slain by it. And, it chokes out the Word of God so that it cannot take root.

For-the-love-of-money-is (1)

Money Talks

They say that money talks. It talks to me but mostly says, “Bye bye,” as Solomon writes, “When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven” (Prov 23:5). Money, like gambling, can become as strong of an addiction as drugs, even though “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it” (Prov 13:11). What they discover is “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity” (Eccl 5:10). What is even more criminal, in my opinion, is that some casinos offer inexpensive or free alcohol which only serves to encourage drunkenness, and a person that is drunk has a decreased ability to make wise decisions. Can you gamble and serve God at the same time? Read what Jesus said; “No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money” (Matt 6:24).

Dirty Money

I had a friend who once said that “If I win the lottery, I’m going to give almost all of it to the church,” but should the church depend on lottery winnings or winnings from a Casino? Whose money is it anyway? Doesn’t the money from these winnings come from gamblers who lost? Gambling seems to be a desire people have to win money so that they can bypass working for it like most people of us do, and that’s as a diligent worker who brings wealth over time (Prov 10:4). When we desire to win money by not working or earning it, are we actually breaking the commandment that says “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Ex 20:17)? Our hearts are deceitful (Jer 17:9) and so we can deceive ourselves into thinking what we’re doing is not wrong. James wrote about coveting; “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2). Paul said “I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances” (Phil 4:11). Are we content in our own circumstances, or are we like most of the world that covets what they do not have? Should churches accept lottery or casino winnings as an offering for the church? Does God really need gamblers to support the church of Jesus Christ? God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (and in fact, He owns the hills too), so why would God condone the receiving of gambling winnings to support the church? I do not believe churches should accept winnings that come from unethical practices such as gambling because it’s dirty money.


Casting lots in the Old Testament was never about gambling or about acquiring money. The only reason they cast lots in the Bible was to find out God’s will on a decision that they were not sure about. Solomon tells us that “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Prov 16:33). The soldiers who cast lots for Jesus’ clothing were only trying to decide who would receive the clothing. They never put up any money to try to win Jesus clothing, so the use of casting lots is never about gambling but about seeking God’s will in a matter. The pursuit of money through playing the lottery, gambling, or in casinos only leads to ruin, and even if they win, they could still lose in the end (1st Tim 6:10), because they are in the business of making a profit, not to make sure that people win.

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 Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • Iain Lovejoy

    Some very good points. I had thought on starting the article that there was little (or less) harm in the lottery than casino gambling since on the whole people will buy their tickets with spare cash and then watch to see if their numbers come up, with less of the doubling up of losses or “binge” gambling of huge sums that people do in casinos, but I can see your point that even if not blowing the rent money in lottery tickets players are substituting a false hope of an unlikely cash windfall for either working to improve their own lives if they can or making the best of and taking joy in what they have.
    Still, flipping it on its head, what would you say to a winner who, having won, realised that they had been wasting their life in hoping for a windfall and wanted to give it away because they wanted nothing more to do with the money, or simply realised they didn’t need it? Perhaps the church should only take the money from a repentant gambler who had paid off all their debts and promised never to gamble again? Or one who always intended to give away any winnings and gambled only as an amusement with a little money set aside as spare?
    I agree a lot of thought would have to go into accepting such a gift.

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you my friend. If this was the case, I would take that money, not for our church, but use the money to expand our nearby homeless shelter and to fill the shelves at our local commodities distribution centers intended to help single mothers (single fathers included too, of course).

  • See Noevo

    “Gambling institutions are in it to make money, meaning that the overwhelming majority are going to lose while only a tiny percentage will win.”

    Should the church accept donations from a successful insurance executive/salesman?
    Everyone – both he and his policy holders – knows his earnings result from pulling in more in policy premiums than he pays out in policy claims.
    Everyone knows XGamblingX insurance institutions are in it to make money, meaning that the overwhelming majority are going to lose while only
    a tiny percentage will win.

  • Rt1583

    “If gambling is not a sinful activity, why does it ruin the lives of thousands of families?”

    Since you’ve introduced this as your yardstick against which you measure sin I’m going to run with it but I’m going to change it a little bit.

    If religion is not a sinful activity, why does it ruin the lives of thousands of families?

    Measure the lives of innocent children which are lost because their parents believe medicine is bad and god will cure all.

    Measure the lives of innocent children which are irrevocably altered because their parents believe that sparing the rod spoils the child.

    Measure the lives of families torn apart because their religion teaches that non-believers are to be utterly cut off.

    Measure the lives of innocent children irrevocably altered and damaged because leaders were complacent in dealing with abusers.

    In short, religion has no firm ground to stand on when accusing any person of being sinful or any activity as being a sin.

    • Jack Wellman

      Most of our present day public schools, colleges/universities, hospitals, charities, orphanages and rescue missions were all founded by Christians in keeping with the Biblical commands of Christ to demonstrate His love to a needy world (Matt 25:34-40). God has always been interested in helping the weak, the feeble and afflicted. Ungodly societies destroy their weak, helpless and burdensome members, like the unborn, poor, & the elderly.

      • Rt1583

        You’ve not even attempted to address my point.
        You say god has always been interested in helping the weak. What of the weak I mentioned above? Are these bad things allowed to happen to them so god can test the faith of the individual it happens to or possibly the faith of those around them?

        • Jack Wellman

          I like what you said that bad things are allowed to test our faith…or perhaps the faith of those around them. That is well put. If you do a word search, say on Bible Gateway, for “poor” you will see much more about how God is concerned with the poor. As I said, but you didn’t even acknowledge, that public schools, colleges/universities, hospitals, charities, orphanages and rescue missions were all founded by Christians in keeping with the Biblical commands of Christ to demonstrate His love to a needy world (Matt 25:34-40). History shows this is true.

          • Rt1583

            So, all that you want me to acknowledge automatically wipes the slate clean of all the bad? All the innocent lives lost or irrevocably damaged are meaningless simply because schools, charities and missions are founded by Christians?

            That you and so many more like you believe this way in the support of your religion is absolutely abhorrent.

          • Jack Wellman

            Measure the lives of unborn babies murdered since Roe v Wade (1973) at about, 63 million, and try sweeping that away. You don’t care about discussing the issue that this article addresses and that’s the widespread destruction that gambling does to our society. Why spin off somewhere else just because you’ve got an axe to grind with evangelical Christians?

          • Rt1583

            And you still can’t address my initial argument.
            What did I spin off?

            You asked a simple question as the premise of your overall argument. I rephrased your question in light of how religion does exactly what you are accusing gambling of doing yet you avoid it.

            Why do you only consider your question/argument to be valid? This is my axe to grind. You believe yourself to be so far above everybody else while absolutely ignoring the fact that you, in your beliefs and practice of those beliefs, are no better than any other human on this planet and you are just as guilty, through the practice of your beliefs, of the same sin you call out for those who gamble.

            Let’s do look at Roe v Wade and compare it to your wonderful god.
            Your god hardened the heart of the pharaoh against moses then punished the pharaoh for having a hardened heart and visited a number of punishments on him including the killing of all firstborn children.

            Perfectly logical and good isn’t it? What leaps of logic allow you to consider this good while you condemn a woman for exercising her right to control what happens to her body?

            Now, to take it a step further, let’s look at all spontaneous abortions. How many billions of lives have been lost through this? If we look at this from the point of view of your belief system, this is 100% the fault of your god simply because your god supposedly controls everything. Though I’m sure you’ll sweep this, along with the illogical story above, under the rug by invoking “god’s will”.