Worldliness (VII): Gambling

Harry Ozment
Nashville, Tennessee

The practice of gambling is becoming more prevalent in this nation each year. It is estimated that 50,000,000 adults are betting $30,000,000,000 (30 billion) per year, and the annual profit to book-makers and organized crime is $6,000,000,000 per year. It is indeed becoming a problem. We as Christians should be concerned about it, for it is a cardinal symptom of worldliness.

Gambling is sometimes defined as "taking a chance." Gamblers often take this "definition" and attempt to defend themselves by saying, "All life is a gamble." It is granted that life is full of uncertainties--but life is certainly no gamble. Gambling should be defined as taking undue advantage of another person in trying to get something for nothing. Life does not require a person to take undue advantage of another person--therefore life is not a gamble. Gambling cannot be defended under any circumstances because gambling is a sin.

(1) Gambling violates 2 Thess. 3:10. Paul said, "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither let him eat." A gambler is by nature a lazy person. He needs and wants food and clothing, but he is too lazy to work for it. So, he resorts to the sinful practice of trying to get something for nothing. He is willing to risk what little he has in order to take hard-earned money from others. A gambler to most people is a sorry specimen of a man--and I have an idea that God takes even a dimmer view of him than do men.

(2) Gambling violates I Cor. 13:5. In I Cor. 13, Paul is speaking of that greatest of gifts--love. In verse 5 he is listing some characteristics of love: "Seeketh not her own." In other words, love will prevent a person from taking undue advantage of another in order to benefit self. Gambling is the very opposite of love. When one gambles, his sole aim is to satisfy himself--"seeking his own." A gambler has no regard or love for others--he will run roughshod over them until he gets what he wants.

(3) Gambling violates Eph. 4:28. Paul wrote, "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth." Gambling is nothing short of stealing. This might seem a bit harsh to some, but it is true. Notice that the gambler is taking something:

(a) Which the other person does not desire to surrender:

(b) And which the gambler has not earned and therefore does not rightfully belong to him.

If this is not stealing, then what is it? Merely because money is voluntarily slid across a table does not make stealing any less a sin.

(4) Gambling violates Lk. 12:15. The gospel record reads, "And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." A gambler is interested in absolutely nothing else except more money. This is why he does not care how he gets it. The fact that certain money rightfully belongs to another person does not make the slightest bit of difference to him. If he can get the money by stealing it across the gambling table, then he's perfectly willing to do that. The gambler needs to read the words of Paul in 1 Tim. 6:6-10: "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

(5) Gambling violates I Tim. 5:8. Paul wrote, "But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." Very few sins take away more clothing, food, and love from a family than gambling. A gambler has no regard for his home and even less regard for God.


August 6, 1970