The Game Is Won!

September 2, 1999

1 Corinthians 2:6-7 – We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. (NIV)

When I first encountered the Presbyterian stance on gambling, I was "gob-smacked" — a Yorkshireman's term for "very surprised". Having never had a problem with gambling, it had always seemed to me a benign activity. My lotto ticket never even seemed to qualify as a gamble, especially if was a charity draw. That the church is "unalterably against gambling in all its forms" was quite a shock. It made me think: "What is gambling?"

At its root, after all of the extraneous elements are removed, gambling is about winners and losers. Someone has to win and someone has to lose. Admittedly, the other "someones" may be giving their well-informed consent, but they also would like to win, and me to lose. How vicious that thought is, wanting the other person to lose. And no matter how we dress them up with the clothes of charity, gambling is still at the root of every draw, every bingo game, for no one can prosper but at the expense of others.

These thoughts indicated to me that gambling is not in line with God's thinking. It seems that God would want all of his children to prosper, at the expense of no one. He has given us all the opportunity to win. By contrast, then, activities where one person must lose would not be in step with the mind of God. But they would be in step with fallen man, with sin, with the evil one. How sly he is, that the devil could chip away at my relationship with God through such an innocent-seeming activity as a lottery draw. It occurred to me then that whereas Satan might say: "Someone's got to lose", God says: "Everyone can win!"

Prayer: Dear God, we praise You, who has made this marvellous world in such a way that we might all be winners. With you there is no gamble; we know that we have won the game of life before it is even played, through the great work of your Son, Jesus Christ. In his name we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Michael Ames
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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