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Should Christians play the lottery?

Should Christians play the lottery?

Click here to ask Chuck your money question

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

Chuck Bentley

Dear Chuck,

We have a lot of debt. Rather than taking on another job or trying to excel at his current one, my husband is seeking money in undesirable places. He buys weekly lottery tickets, shops garage sales and thrift stores looking for ‘treasure’. Meanwhile, I’m teaching piano lessons in our home while trying to maintain sanity in this situation.

Help Please

Dear Help,

I am sorry that you and your husband are not united around an approach to solving the financial challenges that you have. Maintaining unity in your marriage is your first priority; fixing your financial problems is a secondary priority. Let’s start with a way to unite as husband and wife then we'll talk about the financial strategies your husband is using.

Getting on the Same Page

Start by asking your husband to have a “money date” or a series of dates. This is a quiet evening to have a meaningful discussion to begin the process of unifying around your financial goals. It will take an effort to be patient and listen to each other to find your common desires. Crown has resources that can assist you in the process here.

Financial Choices

I have found over the years that people are fascinated by get rich quick stories. Even God’s people are deceived into thinking that they would use the money for good should God grant them such ‘luck’! But, the truth is that money is best multiplied slowly, over time, by following the principles the Lord gave us.

Occasionally we hear of people who stumble upon incredible finds at garage sales. And, the thought of attic discoveries and buried treasure are indeed exciting. But, the reality of those things happening are rare. Unless one is trained to recognize value, the time invested is questionable.

I’m no expert in this “profession”. But, I know it takes many hours to shop, purchase, find appraisers, then buyers. And, when debt is mounting, hard work and focused time in planning and budgeting is needed to make progress towards becoming debt free.

Lotteries are promoted as a simple way to get what we need. Bloomberg reports that the lowest-income households spend the most on tickets. They are purchased based on chance, to quickly and easily obtain a large sum of money. But the Lord does not want us relying on random chance to see our needs met.

Consider Proverbs 24:3-4: By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

If we were to apply the philosophy of buying lottery tickets the passage would read:

By the lottery my house has been built, and through great luck it has been established. By random chance the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

The odds of winning a lottery like the $350 million Powerball are around 1 in 292 million! But, millions of people, in the desire to get rich quickly, generate roughly $80 billion of revenue in the U.S. each year.

The lottery tickets your husband buys does not significantly reduce his risk. In fact, one example compared the probability of winning represented by one lottery ticket to picking the correct 12 inches of a line stretched the 240,000-mile distance between the earth and the moon!

For most people, the return on investing in lottery tickets is nothing more than the paper on which it’s printed.

Christians should never take the money God entrusts to them and waste it on gambling. God is more than able to meet our needs. When we put more trust in chance than in Him, we need to reevaluate our priorities.

Faith that is put in luck and random chance ignores God’s Word. But relying upon His wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, while seeking Godly counsel, improves our opportunity for financial success.

Remember, a Christian cannot believe in both luck and God’s providence.

God’s Way

Freedom and joy are found in living according to God’s financial principles. His way replaces the frantic seeking of fast money with the desire to work as unto the Lord. It’s nothing flashy – but it works!

·      Spend less than you make…. always.

·      Give to the Lord to honor and acknowledge His gifts to you.

·      Set aside money for emergencies and emergencies only.

·      Once funding an emergency account, save regularly in another account.

·      Diversify investments into opportunities that you fully understand.

You can begin by building a budget to track expenses and insure that you can meet your obligations and save for your future.

Hopefully setting a side the time to go on these money dates will help you experience the unity you need to meet your financial goals and to strengthen your marriage. Contact us at Crown for more help.

Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Money Problems, Marriage Solutions. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.

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