What Does The Bible Say About Gambling   Leave a comment

Does the bible say anything about gambling?
Is it a sin?
Let’s take a look…

You might be surprised to learn that the Holy Bible does not contain the words “gambling” or “gamble” in it. Anywhere. Yet surely there must be some principle that we can apply. The bible is, after all, our instruction booklet for life and how to make the best choices for the best overall quality of life.

Did you know that the word, “pornography” just for example, is also not mentioned in the bible? And yet we see clear principles to lead us to the understanding that pornography is a sin. Another example is smoking. The bible does not mention smoking, and yet we know the bible instructs us to treat our bodies as the very temple of God. Therefore, deliberately poisoning our lungs and partaking of harmful addictive substances, which we also become in a sort of “bondage” to, is a sinful thing to do.

So what about gambling? While it also is not mentioned in the bible, we must be able to find some principle from the bible that we can apply to know if it is something we can, should, or should not do.

While the bible does not refer to gambling, it does speak of money, which is typically what is gambled for. (Though other currencies or bets can be placed.)

Here is what we are told about money…

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 5:10, NIV)

“No servant can serve two masters. [Jesus said.] 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.” (Luke 16:13, NIV)

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10, NIV)

So we see, that money can easily become an idol to us (idolatry), thus breaking the first commandment. Now, does this make money itself an evil thing? Well, perhaps some would argue that it does, but we also know that it is a necessity in our current society. We have to make money to sustain our physical lives and provide for our family. So earning money, gaining money, getting money, is not in an of itself a sin….HOWEVER… HOW we gain the money, and what priority it takes in our lives is where money can become a sin. (See verses above)

If we work our work, with all our might (Ecc 9:10) and trust in the Lord to provide, He will take care of us. He promises all our needs will be fulfilled and even some of our desires as well. (Matt 6:33 & Ps 37:4) This way, we earn and provide for ourselves and our families. (By obedience to God, through God and by God.) Even having an abundance of money and being financially successful is not wrong. (eg. Abraham, Job, King David.) BUT… when we start allowing money to become a driving force in our lives; when we start focusing on the accumulation of wealth, making it a top priority or of higher importance than it should be in our lives; when we are not satisfied with what we have; when we lust and covet for more material possessions… then we are sinning. And we need to make the change in our lives to get us back in line with God’s way.

So what about gambling? How does this apply?
Well, some would argue that getting “something for nothing” is wrong. That not “earning” money is wrong. Or they might argue that gambling is all about the way of “get” and therefore should be avoided. I would easier go along with that last argument, than the first. But let’s examine…

Getting Something For Nothing
Is it wrong to win a prize? How about at a game? Any kind of game, or just certain ones? And if so, where do you draw the line? Is it only games that involve money that make it sin? If so, I would ask why? What if you win…oh, I don’t know… Live-stock? Or a car? Or a bicycle? Or a candy bar? Or a trophy? What is the difference? Some have more or less value for certain. But say I played a game of Monopoly. Would it be okay to say, “winner gets a candy bar”? Or would it be wrong to say winner gets a dollar (in which case he goes out and buys a candy bar)? What is the difference?

What about receiving a gift? This is something we have not necessarily earned. We have not worked for it. One might say, well, you have earned it through the friendship of the person giving the gift. Okay, have you ever accepted a free sample, or a discount from a store? Did you earn that? No more so than by sitting down to play a game. It is an agreed upon situation in any case. All parties have agreed upon the situation and the possible outcomes. In the case of the store, they are giving away something, in hopes (in a gamble) that it will encourage you to buy something from them.

So getting something for nothing is not in and of itself a sin. However…can there be, like anything else in life, the wrong attitude towards it? ABSOLUTELY! Like anything else in life (I want to emphasize that — like ANYTHING else in life) the wrong attitude or intent can creep in and bring forth sin. Sinful attitudes, sinful intent, sinful thoughts and sinful conduct, etc. can work their way in to anything we do. Even our calling for example… God calls us. It is of no action of our own that we are given this awesome gift of our calling. We should not think it our own glory. We are given it freely and for the ONLY reason of ….God wanted to. We are getting something we have by no means…earned. So, getting something for nothing cannot be a sin. It CAN, lead to sin, IF we get the wrong attitude about it; if we allow it to make us prideful and look down upon or mistreat others. Again,we can take something harmless or in the case of God’s calling, good, and allow ourselves to sin.
Another great example… Did we “earn” Christ’s sacrifice? For yet while we were STILL sinners, Christ died for us (Rom5:8). What WE earned, was death. What we were freely given, without earning it, was a chance at Eternal Life and freedom from the law of death. Yes, we have to strive, fight, and obey. But no amount of that would earn us a place in the Family without this free gift from God. Something for nothing. Beauty for ashes.

In and of itself, to get something we have not earned is clearly not a sin.

Gambling is about the way of get
Okay. This is true. Gambling is about the way of get. But then there are a lot of things in life that we do for entertainment that has nothing to do with the way of give. (And if its not give, its get, right?) Entertainment, whether it is a hobby, collecting something, playing a game, reading a book, playing or watching sports, horseback riding, etc. etc. is about entertaining one’s self. It’s generally not about giving. It’s about getting some form of pleasure for one’s self. Is that wrong? Is that a sin?
Think about this: God created pleasure. And He wants to give us “pleasures forever more” (Ps 16:11). So getting pleasure is not a sin. God makes many things in life simply for our pleasure. Food for example… It could all taste the same, but no. God gave us such a variety of tastes that one is likely to live a lifetime and never taste them all. And for what? For our pleasure! We get pleasure from taste. Can that become sin? YES! But is it of itself a sin to enjoy getting a variety of tastes on your table? No. But with the wrong attitude, the wrong behaviors, our enjoyment can become gluttony, which is a sin. How about alcohol The ONLY purpose for alcohol is to get pleasure. God allows us the use of alcohol. It is not a sin. Even Christ say’s He will partake of it again with us one day. BUT… with the wrong intent, or misuse, it becomes sinful doesn’t it? The same holds true for anything, including gambling. One can set down and play a game for fun and try to win something (even money). If they have a good time, win or lose, and walk away with a good attitude still, is this sin?

Where gambling become sin
Gambling is not in and of itself a sin, but can BECOME a sin. Setting down with some friends, and playing a game for money, just as an example, or betting on a game, or filling out an entry from to win something, is not a sin. It is the attitude or intent evolved that can make it a sin.
-Using gambling as a substitution of God’s way for us to provide for oneself or family is a sin.
-Using gambling simply to take from others with no regard to them, is a sin.
-Spending money (on anything) you really cannot afford can be a sin.
-Allowing gambling to become addictive is a sin. It becomes idolatry.
-Allowing attitudes of covetousness, jealousy, greed, or even hatred, definitely put it in the realm of sin.
So it really lies with the individual and the reasons and intent and attitude behind it.

Another area where gambling is a sin…
It seems safe to say, (scripturally speaking) that the casino’s and such, are wrong, and are committing sin. (And I personally believe that going to them and using their facilities for gambling would be supporting them, and therefor sin.) The establishments ARE about get. They are set up to take people’s money. AND, they use all kinds of sensual lures (lights, sounds, scents and other visuals; even down to the lay out of the casino and the color schemes they choose, all to play on the subconscious mind) and devices for one purpose…to attract and distract their “customers” into coming in and losing their money to the establishment. This is NOT something God would approve of. Obviously. Their sole purpose it to make money by taking it from other people. It is not a “friendly game”. Nor is it a fair game. It encourages people to spend more of their money than they should, and even causes addictions and other problems. They don’t look out for the welfare of their fellow man (which is in and of itself a sin). They simply take, and take, and take. They do not care if their “customers” can afford what they are losing or not. And they are even making it so that it is more likely than not that their customers DO lose their money. This is purely selfish and purely the way of get. (Though, sadly, this is has become the standard for the American industry across the board, and as such virtually unavoidable.)

I personally don’t believe that I would go into a casino and give it my support. I feel this would be indulging in their sin. Just like going to a restaurant on the Sabbath is supporting the sin of the establishment of their breaking of the Sabbath. Yes, the Casino is going to operate their business anyway. But I am, as a Christian, not supposed partake in the sins of others, let alone to even support the sins of others.
One might argue that, as I stated above, this is the standard of business today. To make profit off of others even if its not in their best interest. We could sit and make virtually an unending list of businesses that take advantage of their customers and or have unethical sinful business practices. Whether it is charging interest, using low quality materials, using child-labor, making products purposely with limited life-span, “planned obsolescence, and the list goes on…it is all about the way of get, and how to take more from others without any care or concern for your fellow man. This is sin. It is basically impossible not to, somehow, support this in today’s society. But to that argument, I would say this…let’s not make excuses. There ARE places where we do not need to go. There are things that we do not need to partake of. There are alternatives that are at very least, the “lesser of two evils.” Supporting a casino, an establishment that is blatantly harming others, (even if it is by the other’s choosing) is not something we should feel okay with or support if we can help it.

I personally would not have a problem with (and see no biblical principal against) making a friendly bet or wager with a friend or group of friends (even a monetary one); chipping in a dollar or two for some type of drawing/raffle, going to a bingo hall for entertainment, entering into a giveaway/drawing of some sort for the chance to win some free thing, etc. Again, I see no biblical principal that could be applied against it.

Do you gamble?

Definition of Gamble:
Verb. Play games of chance for money; bet. —- [Though it can be something other than money. – Me]
Noun. An act of gambling; an enterprise undertaken or attempted with a risk of loss and a chance of profit or success.

Many things in life are up to time and chance. So “gambling” is something that occurs often in life. We often take time and chance on things with risk of loss or chance of profit or success.
When you make plans for a weekend to play a game of golf (or picnic, etc), you are gambling that the weather will be good for it. When you go to college and get a degree, you are placing a lot of stock (money and time) in that you will be able to be successful in your chosen field. Those who are entrepreneurs or investors, invest time and money (though hopefully with wise counsel and some knowledge) that they will get a profit. It’s never a guarantee. So gambling comes in a variety of forms and to greater and lesser degrees. As a bit of an entrepreneur myself, I have at times invested time and money in things to sell, only to have to take a loss, or at very least, not get a profit for a much longer time-frame than I expected. (Sometimes due to my own fault, but other times to things out of my control.) But then, there are times that I get the payoff I was hoping for. That too IS a form of gambling. Even Solomon, through divine inspiration, tells us in Ecc. 11:1-2 (read it), to “take a chance;” ( paraphrasing) “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket;” “Diversify;” because it’s a gamble. Time and chance happens. Bad stuff can happen to anyone, and you don’t always know what might pay off or what might not.

The bible is very clear who our provider is. God is very clear on where our priorities should be. And, it is very clear that money can be misused to the hurt of the individual… but that it (money) is, not in and of itself, a sin to have, or to gain. There are clear ways in which it SHOULD NOT be gained: Unbalanced scales (In other words dishonestly); usury; or stealing. The bible says nothing about getting money through a bet or chance. We find then that some things are up to our attitudes and reasons for doing things. We need…NEED to be careful. We NEED to acknowledge God in ALL of our ways, and allow Him to guide our paths. We NEED to trust in Him to provide for us both our needs and our desires. AND, when making decisions, or when choosing our entertainments, when handling our finances, etc, we need to use wisdom. God expects us to. We need to judge the situations by God’s standards, not our own. There is time and chance in life. And we do often take chances. But count the costs, and know if what we are doing will indeed hurt us or others, if should it not work out as we hope. We NEED to look out for one another. We NEED to be our brother’s keeper in love. If what we are doing is harmful or even OFFENSIVE to our brother, we need to act out of love. If what we are doing will lead us into the wrong attitudes or to sin some how, we need to be aware and avoid it.

So the bottom line… Is gambling a sin? No. Is abusing gambling with wrong intent or wrong attitudes, or to the detriment of self or others? Yes.

For some it should definitely be avoided. Just like alcohol, which we know, in and of itself is not a sin to partake of. But the misuse of it is sin.

So use wisdom and Godly character to make your choices.


Posted April 3, 2013 by buildupontherock in Bible Studies

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