Powerball

Think about it- a $3 play could win you $1.4 billion. Wouldn’t we be crazy to not try?

Let’s talk about that.

Does the Gospel make any statement about risking three bucks to win a billion? No. However, there are plenty of texts about the love of money (He 13:5, 1Tim 6:10, Matt 6:24, Ecc 5:10). And about how we get money (Pr 13:11). And even about who we exploit to make money (Pr 28:8, 16:8, 22:16, Je 17:11, Jam 5:4). If an unbiased view is at play (no pun intended), there are far more moneymaking practices that are in opposition to the Gospel than just playing the lottery.

The mathematical odds of winning are 1:292,000,000. To date, about 146,000,000 have bought tickets. The Census Bureau estimates our US population at 318,857,056, which means 245,201,076 people are eligible to buy tickets. 60% of the population have already bought a ticket. Are they participating in sin? That is the question.

PROFESSORS OF ASSUMPTION

One of the biggest arguments made by bible teachers against the lottery involves its predatory behavior against the poor. This, however, makes a few bold assumptions. It doesn’t seem the winner is concerned with how many people won’t win in order for them to do so. Likewise, developers of the system couldn’t care less if the rich or the poor buy tickets- as long as someone does. Is it wrong just because most who buy the tickets are poor? Most who eat at McDonald’s are poor. Is McDonald’s wrong for serving Big Macs to poor people? Don’t answer that.

Virtually every economic system requires the less-paid work of many to produce huge profits for the few. We certainly can’t say the lottery is wrong because virtually all earn nothing while one wins it all. Wal-Mart employs more than 1.5 million people and their CEO will earn more in one hour than most of their employees will make in a year. Without those millions of underpaid hours- he couldn’t make his millions of dollars every year. Think about it- the middle manager working 70 hours a week trying to earn her way into the C-suite will probably never get there. She could. Yes- but probably won’t. In the same way that you probably won’t win the Powerball. But, she could and so could you. Is this wrong?

LOVE ‘EM AND LEAVE

Next in line is the love of money projection. Can we boldly assume playing the lottery is for the love of money? We work to earn money but that doesn’t mean we love it- does it? I don’t think I love money but I’d certainly love to win the Powerball. I also believe there are many who would benefit from my lucky fortune (I have been generous for a lifetime with family, friends, churches and the needy). Yet, I still have not bought a Powerball ticket. Why?

For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Romans 14:23

I waste $3 all the time. I’ve thrown away gift cards with minimal balances that certainly aggregate to $3. I’ve lost my wallet and therefore $3 (I’m not a big cash carrier). My Roth has gone up and it’s gone down. I’m not always the best steward. But I’ve never bought a $3 Powerball ticket and have no intention of doing so. Not because I think ticket holders are bad managing, money loving, poverty promoting, get-rich-quick trying sinners. Rather, because I’m just not sure whether I should or shouldn’t.

As such, there is no way I can purchase that $3 ticket by faith.

But if you win, you know where to find me.

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