People gamble in many different ways. Some forms of gambling seem quite innocent, and sometimes a percentage of the profits are used for a good cause. God’s Word, however, indicates that gambling in any form is contrary to His will for the Christian:
• First, gambling or betting puts faith in chance or luck rather than in the care and provision of God.
• Second, one who gambles seeks to profit from another’s loss. This borders on stealing.
• Third, gambling promotes a greedy spirit. It emphasizes getting rather than giving, selfish interest rather than self-sacrifice. It erodes the moral fiber of society.
The Bible indicates that there are three legitimate ways to accumulate material goods:
• Work: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
• Wise investments (see the parable of the talents, Luke 19:11–27).
• Gifts or inheritance: “Children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children” (2 Corinthians 12:14).
The experience of the gambler is similar to that of the alcoholic. He or she experiences the delusion of being master of his or her own life, when in truth, life is out of control. He or she denies having any problem, even while family ties disintegrate. He or she ends up with enormous debts and often steals to cover the gambling losses.
The gambler may promise to quit, but he or she rarely follows through unless disaster strikes, bringing an unavoidable confrontation with reality. An encounter with Jesus Christ is the only solution for many gamblers; some who are converted experience immediate freedom from their addiction. In other cases, complete victory and healing is a longer process.
Many of the emotional problems of the alcoholic are also present in the gambler, and the underlying causes must be dealt with in the light of God’s Word.
Gamblers Anonymous, the National Council on Compulsive Gambling, and other recovery groups try to minister to those addicted to gambling. Gamblers Anonymous has chapters in many cities across the nation, and they usually have a listing in the phone book.
1. A compassionate but “tough” stance must be assumed by the helper. The gambling addiction is very real. The victim must be confronted with the fact that life is out of control and that he or she must assume personal responsibility for the situation. Does he or she really want help? Then, the gambling must stop. Nothing short of this will solve the problem.
2. Has he or she ever received Christ as Lord and Savior? Share the gospel – Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD. Christ can break the shackles of sin, making all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
3. Emphasize that the gambler must make a clean break, resolving never to return to the gambling table, purchase lottery tickets, play slot machines, or engage in other gambling-related activities. Living one day at a time, he or she must learn to trust God in regard to the temptation: “But remember this—the wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, TLB).
4. The repentant gambler must abandon the old haunts and sever all relationships related to gambling, and establish new relationships. Attendance at a support group for gamblers could bring very positive results. He or she should identify with a local Bible-teaching church for worship, Bible study, prayer, and the building of new friendships that will help rebuild his or her life.
5. Pray with the inquirer for complete deliverance from the bondage to gambling. Stress the importance of going to the Lord in prayer daily. The practice of prayer will encourage increasing dependence on God, rather than on luck!
6. Stress the importance of reading and studying the Bible on a personal basis. As one assimilates God’s thoughts, a gradual transformation of the mind and life takes place. Your New Life In Christ Bible Study
7. If further help is needed, suggest talking with a qualified pastor or Christian psychologist. Underlying causes that led to the addiction must often be dealt with in depth.
If the inquiry is about bingo, lotteries, or raffles, and the person tries to justify such activities because they are sometimes sponsored by a church or are harmless and serve good causes, refer to the “Background.” Then, proceed as follows:
1. Ask if he or she has ever received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Explain the gospel – Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD.
2. Emphasize that God’s work is to be supported by the sacrificial giving of God’s people, not by such thing as raffles, bingo, or lotteries.
“You shall not steal. You shall not covet . . . anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:15, 17).
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1, NIV).
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12).
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. . . . Put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience” (Colossians 3:2, 5–6).
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996