Intersection of Life and Faith

Don't Gamble with Your Life

  • Whitney Hopler Contributing Writer
  • 2002 21 Feb
Don't Gamble with Your Life

Gambling has become as pervasive in our society as weeds that have overtaken a garden. No longer confined to casinos in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, gambling has sprouted up on the Internet, in convenience stores, and even at social events sponsored by companies, schools and civic organizations.

Most people would probably agree that gambling becomes a problem when people use their grocery money to feed slot machines instead of themselves or wager against their savings accounts at blackjack tables. But what about occasionally buying a lottery ticket or betting on the outcome of a football game? Those seemingly innocent forays into gambling can also bring you pain.

Here are some ways you can break gambling's destructive power:

  • Consider the many ways gambling harms people - not just by wasting their money, but also by alienating them from friends and family, exhausting them emotionally and distorting their perspectives on reality. Gambling can also lead to compulsions that fuel a host of other problems, such as drinking, smoking, sexual promiscuity and crime.

  • Think about what needs and desires you may be attempting to meet through gambling. No matter what you're seeking, gambling won't deliver for you - only God will. If you're seeking thrills, try worshipping God. There's no greater thrill then encountering Him through the Holy Spirit. If you're looking for security, ask God to provide, trust Him, and experience His blessings. God - the ultimate source of everything you need - is truly reliable (unlike gambling). If you're seeking affirmation, you'll find it not by trying to compete against others, but by serving others and enjoying their fellowship, as you can through joining a church family.

  • Realize that all forms of gambling encourage you to seek control through money rather than seeking God's guidance and power for your life. Even if you gamble just once in a while, you're not fully trusting God, and you're blocking some of His blessings.

  • Evaluate how and why you're gambling. Confess your gambling and ask the Holy Spirit to renew your spirit so you'll have the grace you need to stop. Ask God to give you a vision of how your life would improve if you stopped gambling.

  • Join a group of people who are also trying to stop gambling. They can provide vital support, accountability, encouragement and prayers.

  • If gambling has devastated your finances, seek counseling from a financial advisor, such as a volunteer from your local branch of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service. You may even want to temporarily transfer control of your money to someone you trust to be responsible with it until you feel confident enough to regain control of it.

  • Keep track of how much time you spend thinking about gambling, and record your thoughts. Spend at least as much time thinking about God, and pray specifically about each thought related to gambling.

  • Stay focused on the hope that God offers you - real, living hope that will help you through each part of the process of breaking gambling's power in your life. Relinquish control of your life to God bit by bit, as you can. Be patient and courageous as you anticipate and experience God's transforming power in your life.

Adapted from Turning the Tables on Gambling, copyright 2001 by Gregory L. Jantz with Ann McMurray. Published by Shaw, an imprint of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House Inc., Colorado Springs, Co.,

Gregory Jantz, Ph.D., is a speaker, author and host of a daily radio program. He is also the founder and executive director of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, Inc., a mental health and chemical dependency treatment facility with three clinics in the Seattle area. Ann McMurray is a freelance writer who has worked with Dr. Jantz on several projects.

Do you think it’s okay to gamble occasionally, or that it’s best to avoid any form of gambling? Why or why not? Visit the Books Forum to discuss this topic. Just click on the link below.