Gambling god of today Word on the Week 24th August 2019.
In a conversation this week a friend described an outing to Laydown Races. He was in the company of a businessman who knew his way around race courses. His method was to select one race and bet on the favourite. This he duly did and won – his stake was £2,000.00!
It is easy to see the attraction gambling affords. The temptation of the big win. The allure of something for nothing. There is a corruption of the value system involved, summarised in Ecclesiastes Chapter 5 verse 10.
“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is meaningless.” When the American millionaire, Rockefeller, was asked when would he have enough money his reply was, “After the next $1,000,000.”
Money exercises a godlike influence over people. It exaggerates its importance and upsets one’s equilibrium. It encourages greed. It can become an object of worship, never far from one’s thoughts and never able to satisfy the desires of the heart. Perhaps the antidote is to be found in St Paul’s advice to Timothy.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy Chapter 6 verses 6 to 10).
In a newspaper report this week it was estimated there are 30,000 problem gamblers in the State. How can they and we gain this contentment St Paul speaks about? Although they will not look at it this way there 30,000 have dedicated their lives to gambling. It comes first. It is always the next bet that will win and solve everything. Their addiction is helped by small wins engineered by the gambling operator to encourage faithfulness from his punter.
Only ‘Christ can break the power of cancelled sin and set the prisoner free’ as the hymn-writer put it. Cancelled sin? Cancelled by being borne on Christ’s cross and the penalty it incurred paid in full.
Deliverance from gambling (or any other sin) does not come through will-power or good intentions but by confessing the sin and turning from it to receiving the new life that comes from putting ones trust in Christ. It was Christ who, on the cross, substituted his perfect life for our sinful lives to bear our guilt and give us a fresh start (2 Corinthians Chapter 5 verse 17). Trust yourself to Jesus and his Spirit will empower you with that new life (Ezekiel Chapter 37 verses 1 to 14).