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Before You Buy Your Ticket

Posted by James Carroll on

On Sunday October 28, I opened the sermon with a reference to the recent Mega-Millions lottery jackpot that reached an astounding $1.537 billion before a winning ticket was sold. As a tangent to my overall point, I mentioned a couple of reasons for you to resist ever playing the lottery. I want to expound upon those points in this month’s article. Please don’t mistake this word as some legalistic standard; rather, prayerfully consider it as godly wisdom before you rush to the convenient store to buy another ticket.

First, the lottery system is built on greed. The lure of the game is the thirst for wealth. What drives the soul to want the jackpot is a sinful attitude that runs against the grain of the New Testament instructions about money and wealth.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”  1 Timothy 6:6-8 (ESV)

Before you buy the ticket, believer, search your soul. What fantasies are driving you? What dreams do you hope to fulfill? The thirst for hundreds of millions of dollars is not a godly desire. 

Second, the lottery system preys on human weaknesses. The desire for wealth is a trap. Wealth is neither good nor bad on its own. Great wealth wielded for God’s purposes is tremendous gain for the kingdom. Great wealth squandered on earthly pleasures is a terrible waste. Wealth is neutral. The desire for wealth is not neutral; however, it is a landmine. Yet the lottery only works by drawing people to thirst for wealth. It works by tempting people to step on a landmine.

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”  1 Timothy 6:9 (ESV)

Before you buy the ticket, believer, search your soul. Every ticket you buy fuels a system that is built on leading people toward destruction.

Third, the lottery system is a regressive tax. A regressive tax places a heavier burden on the poor than on the wealthy. Research has shown that poor people buy a disproportionate share of the lottery tickets. This system, which is built upon and marketed to lower-income people, generates massive tax revenue for our government. The problem is not merely that poor people buy tickets. The problem is that we know the lottery is built to take an uneven share from poorer people and we continue to participate. Before you buy the ticket, believer, search your soul. The lottery takes money from the poor to provide additional tax revenue for state governments.

Fourth, playing the lottery is wagering with someone else’s money. All we have is God’s. Every dollar in our bank account is God’s dollar. He graciously supplies our needs and calls us to be stewards of these resources by leveraging them for His glory. God is not glorified by tossing His money into the pot of a greedy system that preys on man’s weakness. Before you buy the ticket, believer, search your soul. Every $2 ticket is a misuse of funds entrusted to you by God. It’s money that could be invested in God’s global purpose.

Fifth, playing the lottery is the ultimate statement of distrust in God. Either God will supply all our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus or He won’t. God doesn’t need more money and He doesn’t need the help of the poor to give His children what they need. If God wanted you to be a billionaire, He is capable of dropping the money into your bank account today. He does not need the aid of a government-run lottery. When a believer buys a ticket, he declares distrust in God’s provision by depending on this ungodly system. 

Before you buy the ticket, believer, search your soul. Playing the lottery means your entrusting your financial future to a game of chance instead of the God of creation. The list could go on, but I hope you will understand and receive the point.