To deliberately set someone up for failure is not God’s way. But it is the way of a raffle. Only one can win. All others are guaranteed to be losers. Entering a raffle, then, in order to win the prize, is a form of gambling. To help us out a bit, let’s define gambling in the broad context. Gambling may be defined as “risk-taking on investment which, based solely on the law of averages, is guaranteed to return a lower amount than what was invested”. It’s true that one person will win that raffle. But based on the law of averages, if he continues to participate in raffles, he’s guaranteed to be a loser in the end. He will have lost everything he gained by winning that one time, and a whole lot more. Slot machines work that way, as well. You may win once or twice. And the delusion sets in. “I can win more if I just put in more money!” The result is that the person will lose all he gained, and more … if he’s not careful.
I was in Macao in 1984 — that’s the year before I gave my heart to the Lord. I took a day trip from Hong Kong to get there. While in Macao, I went to a gambling Casino and played a slot machine. Before going in there, I determined, “I’m not going to spend more than ten dollars in this place.” I had my roll of quarters (or something equivalent), and began to put them into the slot machine. And believe it or not, I “won” on one of those rounds. A number of coins came out — perhaps a few dollars worth. What influence did that have on me? It caused me to think that I could win “even more” if I put in more coins! So, I put in more coins. But to my dismay, no more coins ever came out of that slot machine! And within about half an hour, I had not one of those coins left! I spent the entire ten dollars (plus what I had won), and left that place, not bothered by the ordeal. I never set foot inside a casino again after that.
But you see, that’s not the case with all people. And you just can’t imagine how gambling, lotteries, and raffles, have affected our society. The devastation is absolutely astounding. If I took a poll of people who bought lottery tickets, you’d find it was a high percentage. Even some Christians buy lottery tickets and think there is nothing wrong with it. The fact is, it’s very bad stewardship of your money. And, by the way, you’re accountable for how you use your money (every man will render an account to the Lord). What is quite a lot worse than this is the perception that this will help you in life, and “make” you something. People do value money, but it’s not the Lord’s value. When you value a lottery or a bingo for what it can “make” you, you’re aligning yourself with the values of the world. The Lord, however, values hard work. It is through hard work, coupled with the many astounding giftings that the Lord has given to each of those that he has created, that should be making you your money. The Bible puts it this way: “… if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thes. 3:10) That’s a simple, straightforward, to-the-point, message.
This verse tells us that God expects people to work. Unfortunately, one of the delusions of our society is that work is generally a bad thing. People say, “I can’t wait for the weekend,” or “what a grind”. Why do we sometimes feel that way? I believe it is because we are not properly aligned, or in tune, with the Lord’s heart and the Lord’s will for our lives! Or, if we are doing what he has told us, there may still be issues in our heart that are “at odds” with God. We need to learn to “wrestle” with God in our work until we can learn to rest in it — not to disdain the work, but learn to receive it as a gift from God, which it is. Solomon writes, “to rejoice in his labour; this [is] the gift of God” (Eccl. 5:19c) How many of us enjoy the work we are doing and give God thanks for it on a regular basis? Could it be that one reason we seek to “win the prize” through a raffle, a lottery, or a bingo, has to do with the fact that we have not yet learned to REST in the work that God has given to us? For we delude ourselves in thinking, “If only I win the lottery, I won’t have to … work!”
Friends, it’s time to give God the glory for the work that he has given us to do, and not to disdain it. Can you say, “thank-you, God, for the work you have given me to do?” As you learn to give God thanks for your work, instead of disdaining it, then you’ll begin to view it in a new light: this is God’s means of providing you both an income and fulfilment! Who knows? Because of your new attitude, the boss might even give you a raise! You know, there IS one “Boss” up in heaven who is looking down on you, and He’s ULTIMATELY in charge of giving you the raise that you need! And believe me, he’s very capable of moving you into a position whereby your “cup will run over” with the blessings of God, so that you will be amply supplied with all good things. Align your attitude with God’s attitude towards work, and begin to give him thanks every morning for the job you already have. Be bold and drop the lotteries, the bingos, and the raffles. Be prepared to work hard and to enjoy life. And ask God to help you to serve him using the giftings and the talents he has given to you. Then, watch out! Because things will begin to change! You may go through a few fiery trials, God will test you in your resolve to make sure that you’re serious, and, if you prove yourself to be faithful to him, then be prepared to inherit a blessing so great that you cannot contain it.