Is the Lottery a Bad Choice for Christians?

Lottery is a game in which people pay money for a chance to win a prize. The prizes are usually money or goods. Some lotteries are organized by state governments to raise funds for public projects. While some lottery games have been criticized as addictive forms of gambling, others are used to raise money for charitable causes. Regardless of the motive, lottery play is a bad choice for Christians. It focuses on temporary riches and discourages diligent work (see Proverbs 23:5). It also encourages covetousness, as winners often fantasize about the things they would buy with their winnings. God wants us to earn our wealth, not get it from the government through a game of chance.

Many Christians have spoken to lottery players, and what they find is surprising. Yes, these people have irrational gambling habits. But they are not stupid. They know that their odds of winning are long. They just hope to change their lives with a few bucks. They talk about their quotes unquote systems, about lucky numbers and stores and times of day to purchase tickets. They even admit that they know the odds are long, but they think that winning one jackpot will solve all their problems.

What’s more, the large jackpots that drive lottery sales are designed to generate newsworthy headlines. This makes the games appear to be more prestigious and increases consumer demand. In fact, it is the large jackpots that have become more prestigious than the games themselves. The reason is that they give the games free publicity on newscasts and online. They have the potential to transform the fortunes of any winner, even if they are only a small percentage of the entire population.

It’s also important to remember that the lottery doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are black, white, Mexican or Chinese. It doesn’t care if you’re fat or skinny, or whether you’re a republican or democrat. It just matters if you’ve got the right numbers. It is for this reason that so many different people play it. However, it’s important to remember that if you do win the lottery, you’re not obligated to do good with your wealth. Certainly, there are societal benefits to doing so, but it is not required by God. In fact, he warns against coveting the things of the world, including money and possessions (see Ecclesiastes 5:10-15). Instead, God wants us to gain wealth through hard work, then use it wisely in service to others. He says, “Lazy hands make for poverty; but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 10:4). So, if you’re thinking about buying some tickets, take the time to research your numbers and consider the biblical perspective. Then you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether to play or not.