Tempted… but I abstained

Last week when the lottery jackpot hit $175 million or some ridiculously high figure like that, several of my co-workers pooled their money and bought two sets of lottery tickets – one on Wednesday when it was $150 million and then when they did not win, they pooled again and of course did not win.  Both times, I was asked to participate and I chose not to.  I was not pious about it, but I like what Dave Ramsey calls the lottery – a stupid tax. I am not a proponent of any form of gambling and the lottery is just another form of it, albeit cloaked in the guise of helping education.

With the economy struggling and people losing their jobs, etc.  I was tempted.. for a second, but I decided not to.

What could have happened if I had played and won?

1. I would have had to split $150-175 million with six other people

2. I would have lost my testimony for the Lord

3. I would have brought shame and reproach upon the church I am a member of and the seminary I attend.  I would have probably been church disciplined and expelled from seminary…

4. I would not have been able to tell anyone

5. I would have been hounded by all sorts of people looking for a free handout. Long lost relatives would have been coming out of the woodwork!

6. I would have probably lost some friends, but gained some “friends” (notice the quotation marks)

7. I would have been able to quit my job

8. I would have a lot of money, but what would I have taught my wife and son?

9. I would have violated my conscience regarding what I believe regarding gambling.

10) I would have had a lot of money, but would have been very miserable…

I am glad that I stepped back and did not participate… but I was tempted.

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3 responses to “Tempted… but I abstained

  1. Ok…I’ll bite.

    1 – At what point would it ever have been your money?

    2 – How so? The Lord stores up the wealth of the wicked for the righteous…

    3 – How so, again? If all money belongs to the Lord, and He chooses to give it in this way, how is that not a blessing that he has a specific purpose for?

    4 – Why not?

    5 – Well, that’s certainly true…

    6 – You would have lost some “friends” and gained some “friends”. A true friend would never leave you on something like this. Ever lost a friend when you tell them you used to be a sinner?

    7 – Able, yes, but might not have, but then again, the job you have presently is from God.

    8 – Biblical truth, not man-made doctrine? Responsibility? Sovereignty of God? Accountability?
    Self-control?

    9 – Yes, you would have violated your conscience, but not God’s word. God would have been cool with it. There is little to no Biblical basis to support the idea that gambling is a sin. Just like drinking. Let the Bible speak first before you attempt to make it speak for what you believe. You would be applying false guilt to yourself, and not Spirit led conviction.

    10 – Not necessarily. Abraham had money. So did Job. David. Solomon. Yes, all went through trials, but it wasn’t the money that made them miserable.

    I’m glad you stepped up for your convictions, Terry. Financial responsibility is what we all need to aspire to. Wasting money on the lottery can be sinful, yes. It is a form of taxing, agreed. $2 a day can add up.

    But we know that God determines all outcomes. You play Monopoly, Bible says God determines the dice throw. Every time. The lottery is no different. You don’t win, it’s God. You win, it’s God.

    How then do we respond?

  2. Glad you abstained.

    It would be an interesting discussion (perhaps in one of your seminary classes or among your fellow students) as to whether a church should / would discipline someone for winning the lottery.

    Having been a Pastor and having been in churches in states with lotteries, I’ve often wondered about this myself.

    The question I have is this. Is the sin spending a $ 1. on the lottery or winning the lottery.

    Take the first half of that question: Would a church discipline a person for buying a $ 1 lotto ticket each week? Probably no one would know (obviously God does!) so unless someone saw Joe Lotto-Ticket-Buyer buying one it would never come up as a potential church discipline issue. But suppose someone did know. Joe LTB tells his Deacon or Pastor “Every time I buy gas, I buy a lotto ticket”.

    My take is that the sin of buying a lotto ticket probably does not rise to the level of church discipline.

    IF that does not (and perhaps you would disagree with me), does the winning of a lotto “jackpot” (however improbable (what is it like a billion to one!?) – rise to that level. I suspect that if Joe LTB won $ 175 Million and had his face splashed across the news with one of those giant checks, that it would sure raise some eyebrows at church. Talk about BAD PRESS for xyz Baptist church!

    OK let’s say that J LTB is challenged for his sin. Is the sin a $ 1. sin or a $ 175 Million dollar sin?

    If the objective of church discipline is to restore an erring brother to the glory of God (and I think that it is), how could the church restore him. They would ask him to repent of gambling (I would suppose). What would the fruit of that look like? Reject the jackpot? Give it back?

    I hope you conclude that these questions are not a defense of the lottery (because they are not!).

  3. I re-read your paper on church discipline. It is very good. MacArthur has some good things to say about discipline.

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