When a simple handshake “bet” between friends on Sunday’s game becomes an overpowering, heart-racing compulsion, you might want to check yourself. Whether it’s a roll of the dice, flip of a card, a big game or a number in a race, too often the pleasure of a possible big payoff costs more than your hard-earned cash.

It’s no great surprise that gambling is popular among millions of Americans. Vegas was built on “donations.” As much as $5 billion is spent on gambling in the United States every year. Yet, I offer serious caution against gambling. Unfortunately, the odds are against you and it leads to a destructive, behavioral addiction. A simple search online about “gambling addiction,” surfaced this:

With every bet, gambling releases dopamine in the brain, the same neurotransmitter triggered from drug or alcohol use. Gambling addicts all too often experience financial ruin, accruing tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. The cycle spirals downward quickly as many addicts turn to crime to payback debts and afford the next rush. The destruction leads to despair and eventually gambling addicts have a high rate of attempted or successful suicide.

Gambling’s effects on the family are also sobering. Families of people with compulsive gambling are more likely to experience domestic violence and child abuse. Children of problem gamblers are at significantly higher risk of suffering from depression, behavior problems, and substance abuse.

In Proverbs 22:26-27, which was written by the wisest man in history, King Solomon explains the risk of gambling this way:

“Don’t gamble on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, hocking your house against a lucky chance. The time will come when you have to pay up; you’ll be left with nothing but the shirt on your back.”
 

The God Gamble

Gamblers might like to learn that God offers a “bet” of His own, and it’s the ultimate gamble. In Psalm 52:6, the word “bet” is synonymous with the word “trust” which puts a new spin on gambling. However, the God gamble doesn’t come with a low, moderate or high risk choice. It’s all or nothing.

  • Trust God for Everything -- Trusting in something or someone, other than God, to meet your needs takes more faith than faith in God. Because that means you are willing to trust something else instead of the Creator of the universe, author of life and the savior of your soul which was paid for through the sacrifice of His own son’s life. However, believing in God and His son, results in forgiveness of your sin, a relationship with the Almighty who calls you “friend,” eternal life in the Kingdom of God and a rich and rewarding life on earth.
  • Bet Your Life on Jesus -- Living a life of faith is the greatest risk and reward proposition. In Mark 8:35, Jesus said to bet it all on Him. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
  • Joy Is In Your Job, Not in the Jackpot -- In Deuteronomy 15:16, the Bible says “For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.”
  • Put God to the Tithe Test -- in In Malachi 3:10, God promises to pour out blessing if you put Him to the “tithe test” saying, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Trusting in money, and gambling as a means to provide meaning, joy, excitement, fulfillment is a recipe for disaster. Instead, trust God to meet those needs, and reserve your thrills for the Kingdom not cash.

*Kenny Luck is the president and founder of Every Man Ministries. As the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church in California, Kenny has found the proven way to improve men’s ministries around the world. Sleeping Giant is this blueprint, and gives men the tools they need to lead and understand their own men’s ministry. Watch Kenny’s teachings at EveryManMinistries.com.