Can We Gamble?

By Keith Greer

A few years ago, while I was preaching in a meeting in California, some Christians were trying to “justify” gambling to me. Their reasoning went something like this: “Living is a gamble. Buying fife insurance is a gamble. Driving a car or flying in an airplane is a gamble. Are you going to condemn those who also do these things?”

First of all, we need to be careful about confusing “chance” with “risk.” If we make an investment, we are taking a risk that our investment may not pay off like we hope, but we are not profiting at the misfortune of another. The difference is seen in the element of chance. If we gamble, and we win, then we have won at the loss of another. When we have the desire to gain something for nothing, then we have the element that makes it so exciting and titillating for those who want to gamble.

Why, then, is gambling wrong?

(1) “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thess. 3: 10). God did not give us work as the punishment for sin. The hard, backbreaking toil was part of the punishment for sin (Gen. 3:17-19), but from the time that Adam was first placed in the garden of Eden, he was to “dress it and to keep it” (Gen. 2:15). God intended, from the beginning, that man was to work. (2) “Know ye not that the righteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:10). To covet, is simply, “to feel envious desire for that which is another’s; to wish for excessively and longingly.” I ask those who try to justify gambling as “entertainment,” is it possible to gamble and not be covetous? If you win, and you say you are not covetous, are you going to give the money back? (3) Gambling has, and always will be, an “an appearance (form) of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). While we may have convinced ourselves that we have “self-control,” we also sin when we encourage others to participate in activities that may be a stumbling block for them. “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (Rom. 14:13). When Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world,” he placed a grave responsibility on each and every one of us to set a good example. We cannot avoid that responsibility.

Guardian of Truth XXXV: 7, p. 195
April 4, 1991