Whose Money Are You Gambling?

    If you live in the northwest suburbs, you know that the eagerly sought after and long awaited Des Plaines River Casino is now open. There is a lot of excitement surrounding it, new jobs are available (for the benefit of some in our church), new business in the community is promised, and both casual and serious gamblers are happy to have entertainment so near. No doubt, this is a big deal for Des Plaines.
    But is this big deal good? Of course, there is a huge debate surrounding the economic impact casinos make on communities, including law enforcement issues, city services, fallout from addiction problems, etc. I’m not going to enter into that debate here. But as followers of Jesus who believe and profess to practice Biblical principles, there are some considerations we need to evaluate regarding gambling and whether or not we as Christians will participate.
    Is there anything wrong with gambling?
    Let me follow that question with a few to ask yourself….then you make the decision.
    First, is it your money to gamble? Do your possessions really belong to you, or are you entrusted as a steward of what ultimately belongs to God? I’m sure if I left my belongings in your care for a time, you would not take what is mine and risk it at a casino. I’ve known gambling addicts who not only would, but have done that repeatedly. But you are not an addict. You would never gamble what belongs to someone else. Then again, isn’t that what you are doing? As God’s people, all that is in our possession belongs to God. Is that what He wants you to do with His resources?
    Secondly, is there anything wrong with greed? Let’s face it, the fun of gambling is based on greed. That’s not a pleasant admission, but it is true. People say, “It’s the game we enjoy.” But really? If that were the case, huge card playing and coin flipping complexes (without the gambling) would be equally popular in areas where gambling is illegal. Would you get the same kind of entertainment from a place like that? The “gambling high” people experience come from the prospect of receiving a large windfall––of getting rich quick (and taking a risk to get it). While there are ancillary enjoyments in all the trimmings of the gambling world, greed is at the heart of it all. Come on, let’s just admit it. That’s where the thrill comes from. Is greed a part of your nature that you really want to feed?
    Thirdly, can you really win? I mean it….can you? You might have a good night now and then, but in the end, we all know, these billion dollar complexes are not funded by your winnings. But here’s the bigger part of that….when you do win, who is losing? It’s not the casino! The house always wins. Your winnings are on the backs of those who are losing, and many of them cannot afford to lose anything. Thousands of poor people foolishly flood to the casinos every day in hopes of a big win that would put an end to their destitution. When you win, they lose more….more so than the house. Would you still call that a win for you? If you are one who professes to follow Jesus, I would certainly hope not.
    I think that is the ultimate question with this issue as in all others. Who is Jesus to you? Is He your life-changing God who has given you new values, motives, desires and meaning? Or is he just a religious icon you pay a little homage to on Sundays, who hardly affects your daily choices….certainly not modes of entertainment. Who is Jesus to you? That’s the biggest question of all.

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