By Olen Holderby
When I approached a fellow-Christian in California to ask about his gambling, he was astonished to learn that I thought he would gamble. Then, I wanted to know if he did not play bingo, for money, at the club. He explained that such was only nickel and dime stuff and that it was not gambling. ” Oh! ” Finally I got him to see (at least say he saw) that it was wrong. I went home almost as happy as if I had good sense. But, the glee was short-lived; a few days later he was witnessed buying a lottery ticket. I suppose that if some are permitted to redefine repentance, that others ought to be permitted to redefine such activities as gambling. It makes for an easier conscience. Mr. Webster might go crazy trying to keep his dictionary up to date. I don’t know how it happened, but some of us have gotten to be awfully “dumb,” not knowing how these new definitions work.
Now comes an Associated Press item out of Chicago (The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Ca., 5-18-92), telling about a real humdinger invention that will permit people to gamble, and with ease deny it all the time. It has its good points: You will not have to carry change around in your pocket or purse, it could help the economy (he says), it simplifies the life of a business person, and the real clincher says “there’s no perceived cost to the consumer.” What is this fantastic machine? I haven’t seen one, but the article paints an exciting picture. It will, shall we say, set in your grocery store. When you are checking out and the cost is tallied, you step forward and gamble as to whether your bill will be rounded off to the dollar above or the dollar below the actual amount. If you win, you could save anywhere from one cent to ninety-nine cents. If you lose, your loss would have the same range. If you are worried that it might really be gambling, don’t worry; the machine weighs the odds in such a way that, in the long run, you will be paying the right price and not have to be inconvenienced by all that old change. Of course the “long run” might be five years, twenty years, or maybe a life time. You might not even live long enough to get even. They call it the “law of probability,” and no doubt it is. Probability of what? They say, “The real question is whether people will buy it.” I think I can answer that. They will! It doesn’t make any difference that it is gambling; for it involves all that pocket change which you do not like to carry around anyway. I can almost picture some of my fellow-Christians, who want changeless pockets or purses, taking the leap, and getting a gleeful kick from the activity. Such people would probably never think of going to Reno or Las Vegas and spending money at the gaming tables -that is big stuff! But, this nickel and dime stuff – Why that isn’t gambling.
Seriously, dear reader, what would you do if confronted with that choice? Have you ever tried to follow 1 Thessalonians 5:21? What passage would you use to prove gambling to be acceptable to God? What about considering 1 Corinthians 4:2 -“Moreover it is required of stewards, that a man be found faithful.” A “steward” is one who has been entrusted with the possessions of others. The word is used in reference to the Apostles (1 Cor. 4:1), in reference to elders (Tit. 1:7), and in reference to Christians in general (1 Pet. 4:10). According to James 1:17, every good and perfect gift comes from God. And, God has said,”The world is mine and the fullness thereof” (Psa. 50:1). If these passages state the truth (and they do), every Christian has in his care the possessions of God. How are we going to use those possessions? Will we be a good steward or be condemned for wasting his goods?
“Thou shalt not covet” and “Thou shalt not steal” (Rom. 13:9) are two commands violated when one gambles. Gambling is an expression of a covetous heart. To steal is to take without authority, right, or permission. Ephesians 4:28 is another passage that is violated when we gamble. The idea that a “little bit of sin” isn’t so bad did not come from God’s book. Sin, any unrepented of sin, separates us from God (Isa. 59:2). See the progress of sin in James 1:14-15. First there is the temptation, then there is lust, next is the sin, and finally there is death (Ezek. 18:20). Some say, “Life is a gamble. “I affirm that life is not a gamble, it is a stewardship in which the individual makes God his partner. “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6). Let us recognize gambling for what it is; and it is sin! Referring to gambling by some other name does not, in the least, change the fact that it is gambling.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 21, p. 662
November 5, 1992