The Lottery and Powerball
The Lottery! The Powerball! What can the Lottery teach us? We know that for weeks now, the great Powerball lottery has been in the news. People from across the country have been talking about it and planning on how they will spend the money they win! Newscasters and newspapers have had this as their theme for these many weeks. Have you followed these reports? In fact, did you play the lottery with the hope of winning? The contest is now finished and one family has claimed their prize!
The Powerball jackpot was worth $1.6 billion! This astronomical figure is far more than we can imagine. This is 1,600 million dollars! Three tickets were drawn to divide this huge amount of money.
John and Lisa Robinson of Munford, Tennessee, was one winner. They could have collected $533,000,000 in 30 yearly installments, but instead, they opted for a lump sum of $328 million. None of us can imagine what 328 thousand thousand dollars is!
The Powerball teaches us Lessons of Life
After winning the Powerball, John Robinson said an insightful thing in regard to his decision to take the $328 million jackpot. “We’re not guaranteed tomorrow. We just wanted a little big piece of the pie. Now we’re real grateful we got this big piece of the pie.” In the Bible, James says, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (4:14). He went on to declare, “You ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that”” (v. 15). Solomon says something similar: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). Robinson was right when he said, “We’re not guaranteed tomorrow.” Do we keep this in mind?
Does the Powerball teach us lessons that we can apply to our life? We are not assured of one more day, thus we should live day by day in light of eternity! Jesus told the story of a rich man who tore down his barns to build bigger ones. He said to himself, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19). What did God say about this? “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” (v. 20). And what did Jesus add? “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (v. 21). The rich man didn’t know that his life would be cut short! Ours might also come to and end without warning.
We really don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Robinson may not live another day. The Lottery is a form of gambling and this is one reason that most professing Christians refuse to dabble in this activity. We shouldn’t desire to gain something that will cost someone else what they would not willingly give. This would be a violation of the Golden Rule that says, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31). Gambling is a selfish pursuit to receive something at the expense of others. Besides, if we should win, our life could be taken at any time.
The Powerball and Greed
Most lottery players hope to pile up the winnings in the bank and then spend it on houses, cars, vacations, land, clothes, and other expressions of greed. Paul says that greed or covetousness is a form of idolatry, the placing of money or possessions before God himself (Ephesians 5:3, 5). We were pleased to read that the Robinsons planned to keep their little gray one-story house, just as before. When asked about buying a large house, Lisa Robinson said, “I’ve never wanted that in the past. I don’t’ really want that now.” They do plan to pay off their house and pay off their daughter’s student loans, and not make big purchases. They even plan to return to work!
The Powerball and Lessons Learned
In no way would we encourage anyone to play the lottery and seek to win by this means. But we do learn that there is something more important than money. There is something more important than “things” and possessions. There are matters of integrity, contentment, and love that far outweigh huge winnings of this or any other lottery. Contentment is a value that God prizes (Hebrews 13:5; Philippians 4:11). As Jesus asked, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
Did you play the Powerball lottery? I hope not. But if you did, do you now see that this is not something for the Christian who seeks to walk in the way of Jesus and follow the teachings of the Bible? It is clear. The Powerball is not the way to go.
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(Source: “Powerball Winner Takes His money Now,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 2016.)
See also The Lottery