by Tim Hall
Exciting headlines often conceal the larger, uglier truth.
The headline on the Internet news site was hard to pass up (you can see I didn’t!): “Woman Wins $2.4 Million In Her First Trip To Vegas.” The story is apparently true. Jessica Agbunag, a 24-year-old baby sitter from Honolulu, had a wildly successful time playing the slot machines at the California Hotel and Casino. She plans to pay off her car and to share some of her windfall with relatives.
Many who read that headline will make their own plans to visit Vegas or some other place where games of chance abound. “If she can win on her first visit, why can’t I?” they’ll reason.
Such dreamers should take a closer look before feeding coins into one-armed bandits. Look at the size of these casinos, and how opulently they’re furnished! Where did they get such funding? Big-time gambling doesn’t become so gaudy by making most players rich. Yes, it’s good for business when young baby sitters occasionally strike it big on their first try. But what would happen if that were the norm? Gambling thrives because most people go home losers.
Solomon urged this same “look more closely” approach for another popular pursuit. “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly” (Proverbs 23:31, NKJV). Makers of wine and other alcohol-based beverages present such scenes. Television commercials emphasize the social thrills of drinking, the trendiness of choosing just the right type or brand of wine.
There’s more to be considered, however, than just these visible surface issues. “At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things” (Proverbs 31:32,33). In another place, the wise king summed up the matter: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1). How many of the millions currently addicted to alcohol intended to become addicted?
Gambling and drinking are just two areas of concern. There are plenty of other activities which must be scrutinized behind the headlines. And why is this? Paul tells us: “Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Satan, the great deceiver, has multiple strategies to trip good people. God, however, has revealed enough in his word to guard us against such deception. Those who love the truth of God’s word need not fear the delusions that originate with the devil (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
“I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life” (Proverbs 4:11-13).
by Tim Hall