Billions of dollars are spent each year on gambling, particularly in the United States. By definition, gambling is the wagering of something of value, generally money, on a game or event. While those who play it love it, it is an activity that is heavily criticized by some. Many people who gamble don’t see it as being morally wrong.
Whether you gamble or not, most can agree that there is a dark side to it and many risks. The more you bet, the darker the path you go down is. People don’t realize when they actively gamble is how money can really become an idol, one that we begin to worship. Here are six signs gambling is your idol.
You Feel a Sense of Greed
One of the reasons gambling is an idol and can be dangerous is because it is motivated by greed. Generally, the goal of casinos and other gambling institutions is to get a lot of money quickly. Usually, they accomplish this goal well, and it becomes a lucrative business. The gambling industry’s goal isn’t just to get money but to get money quickly, without giving a good product or beneficial service in return. The industry thrives on quick cash, which manifests covetousness. God’s law forbids this, and the love of money is something God warns us about. First Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Be mindful of this greed and the role it can play in your heart.
A big sign gambling is your idol is when it’s compulsive and addicting. It becomes such an addiction that most of your spare time is spent gambling in one form or another. When you’re traveling or on vacation, those trips are taken up with visits to the casinos. The heavier your addiction to gambling is, the easier it is to neglect the important things in your life, like your job, your family, and even your faith life. You begin to sin by wasting money and your possessions. The money that comes in your hand goes right out the door, trying to chase that next win. Some people get so lost in gambling that they will sell or pawn off their belongings just so they have more money to put into gambling. When those resources disappear, they may even begin to swindle or steal money to keep the habit up. This is very dangerous territory to be in.
You Don’t Believe it’s Morally Wrong
The gambling industry is immoral in many ways. Those who connect to the gambling industry benefit from the money coming in. This includes those who sponsor casinos, bingo parlors, lotteries, and other spots where gambling is permitted. Many people wonder what is wrong with benefiting from gambling. We are generally told that gambling is a good thing because of all the money from gambling that goes into social causes. Some of this includes the excess money from state lotteries that support the state education system. Some will even say that putting money into gambling is an investment in our children. Then, because casinos are generally willing to pay of percentage of their earnings to local communities, some see the funds as really helping the community. What’s wrong with making a positive contribution to society and even lowering taxes? The thought is that the end justifies the means, and this motive alone excuses the act. Yet, no matter how we spin it, it is morally wrong. There are many other ways to put money back into our communities that do not involve gambling our money away. Consider giving back in positive ways.
You Lose Yourself in It
If you find yourself turning your check over to the casinos, it may just be your idol. We should make some important distinctions between what gambling is and is not. Gambling isn’t signing up or registering for a free gift when we’re scrolling through ads or sites online. These sign ups simply place people in a position to receive something given away, and the person who is doing the giveaway is selecting a recipient. When someone is gambling, they are taking big chances with their money, the kind of changes that can cause you to lose yourself.
You Begin to Break Biblical Principles
One of the reasons Christians shouldn’t partake in gambling is because it breaks several biblical principles that are key to our lives. Living a Christian life is doing things that express faith in God. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” We are called as Christians to love our neighbor, not to gain from someone else’s loss. We should do everything in our power to avoid greed and covetousness. We should keep our hearts away from the love of money because of God’s presence in our lives. We should know that everything we have has been given to us by God, and we should glorify Him in an honorable way. If you begin to break these biblical principles, gambling may be your idol.
The money and possessions we have are gifts from God. They should be used to glorify Him. It is our duty as Christians to use those services wisely. In the end, compulsive gambling is a sin and can lead us far away from God. There are very few sincere Bible-believing Christians who would disagree. Gambling is sinful for those who are addicted to it. When you put your heart in gambling, you are also placing the love, desire, and thrill of making money over God, which is ultimately the definition of idolatry. If gambling is getting in the way of your finances and relationships, it’s time to take a step back.