Saturday, June 2, 2012

Gambling - the old traditional, destructive (sinful) vice

Gambling - the old traditional, destructive (sinful) vice - No matter how it is masked, it remains the old traditional, destructive (sinful) vice

It is said about gambling that:

“A racehorse is an animal that can take several thousand people for a ride at the same time.”

“Every man has three secret wishes – to outsmart racehorses, women, and fish.”

“There are two times in a man’s life when he shouldn’t gamble when he can’t afford it and when he can.”
  • “No horse can go as fast as the money you bet on him.”
  • “No one has more faith than the person who plays a slot machine.”
  • “The worst evil of gambling is that the odds are always with the house.”
  • “The best throw of the dice is to throw them away.”
  • “Gambling is just plain stealing by mutual consent.”
“Gambling is like diving into an empty swimming pool. The chances that you’ll hit bottom are about the same.”

"Gambling is the child of avarice, the brother of iniquity, and the father of mischief.”

[“Quips and quotes” -- E.C. McKenzie]

Why gambling has always been considered a destructive (sinful) vice:

Gambling is often advertised as a “quick get rich” scheme to acquire large sums of money. The games of gambling appeal to the base [fallen] human nature of avarice, covetousness, greed and materialism. 1 Timothy 6:6-19 ; Luke 12:13-48

Gambling is fueled by chance, which results in odds against the participant – “Heads,” the gambling establishment wins; tails, the gambling establishment still, wins” -- 5% chance, (and / or, much less), the participant wins. What parachute jumping enthusiast would truly enjoy his sport, knowing that there is a 1 in 20 chance that his parachute will never open?

A gambling (realistic) scenario:

Given that “odds” are against the gambler, the gambler will attempt to “beat the odds” and continue his steady pace of gambling. [Gambling appeals to a person’s pride – to that “ultra ego” that will not refuse to give up or be beaten down] Hence, chances are very poor, for the individual, to come out a financial winner. Many gamblers don’t know when to quit. They often gamble with money that should be budgeted to pay family necessities, such as food, mortgage, rent, utilities, etc. Consequently there are forced upon families of gambling enthusiasts and addicts, humongus economic stresses.

Not only are there tremendous financial stresses put upon spouses and family members of gamblers, but there are financial stresses upon the gambler himself, to win the money back he lost and to "break even" or to come out “ahead.”

There are nagging emotional and guilt stresses for having lost money that should have gone to feed his family and pay for family necessities of food and shelter. Hence, with guilt over subjecting family income to a gambling addiction, plus (previous gambled, outstanding debt), gamblers have sadly, resorted to suicide. To them, this dead end “avenue,” is the only way out of the hole that they have dug for themselves. Once having rid themselves of the shame and debt of their losing gambling habit, the families of the deceased (suicide) gamblers are forced to start over. Society ends up “picking up the pieces,” doling out of the public tax rolls welfare aid to needy families.

The old gambling contention [rationalization]:

Gamblers and gambling establishments will be quick to point out that [to them] gambling is a very healthy option of “Entertainment.” They will readily (and falsely) say that an obsession with gambling, is only indicative of problem or compulsive gamblers. But now, suppose we would employ that same logic when it comes to teens, drinking adult beverages. Our present US society frowns on teenage “drinking,” and great lengths are sought to do everything possible to prevent young people from imbibing adult beverages. Why?

Statistics tell the grim story of teenage deaths and other deaths that are tied to teenage driving and drinking. However, regarding teenage gambling, and the human carnage that is the result, government and society look the other way. Rose colored eye glasses are the norm as legalized gambling is incorrectly perceived as a “win / win” situation as it [supposedly] stimulates the “economy.” Such is not the case when analysed by economists and social workers.

Why gambling appeals to the non-Christian and to the naive [nominal] Christian:

To the non-Christian and to the unsuspecting, uninformed, naive (nominal) Christian, money and possessions are perceived as having been acquired through [their] hard work and determination. To the materialistic person -- especially the person who believes in evolution [molecules to man], the aspect of Creator God’s undeserved Grace and Mercy is a non factor. James 1:17 ; Titus 3:3-5 ; Titus 2:11-14 ; John 1:12-16 ; Ephesians 2:4-9

But, to the serious Christian disciple, there is the recognition that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” [Psalm 24:1] The humble soul who looks to Creator God will readily recognize the import of that famous hymn lyric: “All depends on our possessing, God’s abundant grace and blessing.”

To Christ’s disciples, money and material wealth are a “trust” given by God who will some day enquire as to the “stewardship” with which he has endowed his creation. After all, was not the Creator’s first command, in the beginning, to “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth?” [Genesis 1:28] Understanding the Triune God's call to stewardship and financial responsibility, is what makes gambling such an abhorrent activity to the trusting soul who relies upon Creator God for his sustenance, provision and guidance. The Christian disciple believes that whatever he “has,” is a gift from his loving God, to be utilized for the highest good - and, responsibly as a good steward. Hence:

Christian discipleship regards gambling as sinful. It is:
  • Wasting resources of monetary and material wealth - Luke 15:11-32 – Note: Luke 15:13;14
  • Wasting time - Ephesians 5:15;16;17
  • Feeding the insatiable base sinful desire of the love of money to acquire wealth, without working for it - 1 Timothy 6:6-11 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
  • Stealing from others (by coming away with another person’s wealth) – [Romans 13:8-10 ; Galatians 5:13-14] Note: Please read the following for a clearer understanding:
Gambling: A sin, or not?

Some Christian churches wrongly take the stance of only warning against gambling because it can lead to evil and that it [gambling] is not in, and of itself sinful. In taking this position, that would place gambling in the same category as card playing, dancing and drinking alcoholic beverages. Gambling is not in the same category. God has granted Christians the liberty to make use of things that are morally neutral. Gambling is not morally neutral.

The following letter to the editor appeared in a major denominational monthly paper:

Everyone who gambles hopes to win. To win, another player or players must lose. If my neighbor must lose for me to win, I am sinning against the law of love. The apostle Paul states that love does no harm to its neighbor. [Romans 13:10] Luther, in agreement with Paul, states that we are to help our neighbor protect his possessions and income and that we are not to seek to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house by a show of right. One who gambles is not helping his neighbor protect his possessions, but is scheming to get his inheritance (money) in a way that only appears right.

I commend the CTCR [Commission on Theology and Church Relations] for sounding a strong warning against the evils that gambling promotes. I also appreciate the fact that the CTCR does not wish to impose human laws that go beyond the Word of God. I would hope, however, that the CTCR would reconsider its document and not be so reluctant to call sin, sin.

[Bob Kass: “Letters to the Editor” (LCMS “Reporter,” April, 1996]

One thing that people don’t generally talk about on their deathbed:

One thing that I never experienced as a former denominational Christian parish pastor, were the sick and dying talking about money and possessions. I specifically remember this moment of an old gentleman who was excommunicated from the local church before I became the pastor. That did not matter to me as I would visit with him and his (church member) wife. This man was one of the wealthiest persons in the community. His life was cut shorter by an auto accident. I had the privilege of ministering to him on his deathbed and he very willingly partook of the Sacrament of the “Lord’s Supper.” Not once did he mention his wealth or make any type of reference to his worldly possessions. His faith grew to be that of a child’s. He graciously and eagerly hung onto my every word of comfort and assurance. This dear soul’s earthy money and possessions meant nothing to him in comparison with eternity to come.

“WWJD?” – What would Jesus do?

I’m sure that you’ve heard the modern day expression put in form of a question: “What would Jesus do?” Let me ask you – especially you who are not convinced about the sin and sinful nature of gambling. “Would Jesus Christ, himself, gamble - and, would He encourage any form of it?” I believe that we have every indication that He did not.

There is no mention of Christ gambling, in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Rather, we have portrayed, an obedient Son of His Father doing His father’s will, on a mission to be born, live, suffer, die and to be risen again from the dead. No gamble here, but only destiny. No gamble here, but only purpose with the clear goal in Christ’s mind to finish the course and to complete the sinless mission to die for humanity’s sin. Why? To make it possible by His sacrifice so that sinful human beings such as you and I might experience the perfection of heaven and the sweet fellowship of our Creator Christ. Colossians 1:13-20

Finally: For you who are caught up in the sin and sinful nature of gambling - and, encouraging others to do so:

Sinner, friend, if you are caught up in the sin and sinful nature of gambling, and / or encouraging others to do so, - know for a reality that your soul, compared to the love and coveting of money is, priceless. [Matthew 16:24-27 ; Luke 12:13-56 ; Luke 16:19-31] Don’t allow gambling to be the trap to steer you away from your Creator God and / or to poison your fellowship and friendship with Him!

If you are caught up in the sin and sinful nature of gambling and its proliferation - and attempting to live your life without your Creator Christ [Colossians 1:13-20]– then, I pity you. I pity you because you will have squandered - “gambled” the opportunity of a lifetime and of an eternity. [Luke 16:19-31] You will have bartered your priceless soul for worthless human depravity and for the lust of money, of which will do you no good when you lie on your deathbed.

Whether you like to realize it or not, you are a sinner who needs Christ’s eternal forgiveness and love. If you reject Him and go your own way, He will not stand in the way of the free will that He has granted you. Luke 16:19-31

Sinner friend, as a Christian, and as a Christian pastor, I urge you to discover through earnest and humble search, what is, of priceless eternal worth. [Proverbs 1:1f ; Psalm 1:1f ; Luke 18:9-14] May you come to realize that the lust and lure of human monetary wealth is fleeting, and certainly, not worth your priceless soul! May you come to realize that only in the Lord, Creator Jesus Christ, will you find the truth – and not only the truth, but genuine peace and the eternal respite for your ongoing existence after death. May you, through repentance over personal sin, [Psalm 51:5; Luke 18:9-14 ; Luke 19:1-10] and faith in Christ, [John 3:14-21 ; Matthew 7:13-29] be granted life eternal, rather, than death eternal. Matthew 10:28 and Matthew 10:32-39

Amen.

Note: Please return to visit this topical message, as this pastor intends to post some help links for those who desire help from their gambling obsession.

Above Message and Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

Also: For a couple of other (more formal) worship formats:

1 Kings 21:1f – The greedy and coveting sin of King Ahab – the evil consequences for his neighbor and the just punishment of Creator God upon King Ahab and his wicked wife

Luke 12:1f – Christ explains, what is truly important -- Note: Christ's parable in this chapter -- Luke 12: 13-21

1 Timothy 6:6-11 and 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12 -- Feeding the insatiable base sinful desire of the love of money to acquire wealth -- and, without working for it

Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

Please note: Topical Messages, by subject

Pastor (emeritus) Nathan
Bickel

Please also note:

The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

The Christian Faith: Parts 1-3
2 -- How the saving (believing) process of the Christian Faith takes place
3 -- What are the tell-tale signs that a person has been “Saved” [is a Christian]



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