Down On His Luck

What’s so bad about gambling?
Gambling Even if you have little interest in basketball, you probably know who Charles Barkley is. Barkley was a star at Auburn University, then went on to become one of the NBA’s best with the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers. Today he is seen on cell phone commercials and as an expert analyst on ESPN.
His otherwise lovable image took a serious hit when it was reported he owes $400,000 to a Las Vegas casino. The debt is not a slow accumulation, but the result of four “markers” (loans) given to him on two consecutive nights in October of 2007. Barkley assured his fans it was a simple oversight. He’s not broke, he claimed; he’ll make good on the loan.
Sir Charles’ run of bad luck highlights again the issue of gambling. No, the Bible does not condemn the practice per se. But betting runs afoul of several principles clearly set forth in God’s word.
First, we should be good stewards of the resources put in our hands. Paul said it well in Ephesians 4:28: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (NKJV). Honest work for honest wages is the Christian’s standard, and what is earned must be carefully used. If we waste what we earn, how can we help the poor around us? Gambling necessarily ignores this admonition.
Some argue that winning the jackpot increases our resources so we can do more good. Have you checked the odds of gambling? Better yet, have you noticed the opulence with which casinos are built? The money that constructs such palaces doesn’t come from businesses that pay out more than they take in. The odds are great that your wager will be lost.
Second, gambling causes us to sidestep the Golden Rule. Here’s how Luke recorded it: “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). When you gamble on a sporting event, do you want other bettors to do as well? If they did, you’d have a paltry jackpot! Those who follow Christ’s teachings prefer giving over receiving every day (Acts 20:35).
Third, consider the threat of becoming addicted to gambling. It’s a problem that afflicts up to 3 million Americans; another 15 million are at risk. /1 We’re guessing that not one of those addicts meant to become a slave to this “pastime”. When an activity is known to pose such a threat, how should we approach it? Paul’s warnings about becoming enslaved to sin (Romans 6:16) should help answer that question.
We’ve long considered Charles Barkley one of the “good guys” among professional athletes, but this concerns us. All who respect the wisdom of God should use his misfortune as a renewed warning about Satan’s tactics.

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