What Does The Bible Say About Gambling?
Gambling is a craze in this world. There is a great haste to be rich and the riches do not satisfy. What is gambling? It is when you game to get material gain usually at a great risk. In its strictest sense gambling is often the luck and chance activity that goes hand in hand with the scene of the so-called recreational drugs. All around you see poker, bingo, slot machines, lotteries and raffles. With the advent of the internet came online gaming. One of the most popular Facebook Pages has to do with poker. It is a great addiction. What does the Bible say about gambling? You will not find the word “gamble” or “gambling” in the Bible but the Bible has broad yet pointed guidelines that we can follow in this matter.
The love of money
We are warned that the love of money is the starting point of many types of evil.
1 Timothy 6:10 says:
“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.”
Unwillingness to work
Gambling as well as stealing is often caused by people’s unwillingness to work. The gambler at heart then looks for an easy way to get money quickly.
“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.”
“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
“Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.”
Does gambling affect one’s character and even contribute to crime?
Gambling definitely affects one’s character whether it is perceived or not. The gambler’s character may deteriorate so badly that he may commit a crime, perhaps to recoup his investment or to get even with someone who mocked him due to his losses. He or she may even be winning but the lure of more and more money becomes addicting. The gambler, like the cocaine addict, sell his or her own belongings to get more money to gamble until the house is bare and the children’s school fund and the retirement fund are diminished.
No wonder Proverbs 15:27 says “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.”
Prov. 28:20 adds “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.”
“He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.”
Note that that verse says that get rich quick schemes cause you to have an evil eye. So when two people gamble both have evil eyes. That is a recipe for a crime to be committed.
Even when one gambler is successful in material gains Proverbs 20:21 adds “An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed."
The losing gambler may protest because both his money and his pride are at stake and soon things get ugly.
2 Thessalonians 3:7,10 - "For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”
A classic example of what gambling in the Bible does is seen in Samson’s dealings with the Philistines. Samson made a wager with the Philistines. The Philistines used deceit to decipher Samson’s riddle, threatening the life of his wife and her father. When Samson lost the wager he slaughtered thirty Philistines just to get thirty shirts for the Philistines at no monetary cost to himself. Both sides resorted to either killing or the threat of killing.
The Golden Rule – Does gambling oppress others?
No gambler in the world would wish that the Golden Rule applied to him. The Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 says "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
The gambler only thinks of winning but never about the fact that he is making another person poorer.
As noted earlier Prov. 15:27 says “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.”
Gambling goes against the Golden Rule. It may even lead to the gambler not providing for his own because of his losses or perhaps even his loss of life.
1 Timothy 5:8 - "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."
Can the gambler honestly say that he never oppresses anyone? To say that the other competing gambler that is losing consented to the gambling is missing the point. Not everything that is consensual is ethical. Even man’s laws state that. I repeat the question, Can the gambler honestly say that he never oppresses anyone?
Zechariah 7:10 commands:
“And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.”
Luck and chance - Anyone can win
Some gamble and they think that they have all the moves all figured out. They think that they cannot lose. They think they are unbeatable so they risk all and lose all. Does not the gambler realize that just as the gambler has a chance that the person competing against him has a chance as well? The Bible itself says so.
Ecclesiastes 9:11 says “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
If people would heed Ecclesiastes 9:11 it would save them many a 911 call.
Thou shalt not covet
The tenth commandment is an indictment against coveting. The Ten Commandments also speaks against stealing and killing. Gambling comes from covetousness and often leads to stealing and even killing. Three commandments are often broken by gambling.
The Bible tells us to be content and not to covet. Deut. 28 promises that God will bless us if we are faithful. The Bible tells us that wealth is not everything. In fact it is hard for a rich man to be saved. He may save loads of money and he himself is not saved.
Luke 12:15 says: “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.”
Finally Heb. 13:5 says “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
What Does The Bible Say About Gambling? It is not in accordance with biblical principles.