By: Paul Smithson
There is no one passage that states “Thou shalt not gamble.” However, the Bible is not a book of “thou shalt’s” and “thou shalt not’s.” If God had dealt with everything in life in this way we could not haul the Scriptures around. The Bible has many direct commands, but it also has many divinely given principles on which we are to base our walk of life. Gambling violates several of these Biblical principles and is therefore sinful.
1. Gambling violates the principle of Stewardship.
There are many passages that clearly teach that we are to be good stewards of all that the Lord has given us. (cf. 1Cor. 4:2; Lk. 12:42ff ).
The Scriptures teach our possessions come from the Father in heaven and that everything ultimately belongs to Him (Ps. 50:10-12). So when one squanders his money through gambling, he actually has not squandered what is his– he has squandered that of which God has made him a steward. Whatever God blesses us with we must use wisely to His glory. One cannot gamble and be a good steward of the things with which he has been blessed.
2. Gambling is sinful because it is exploitative of others.
Jesus declared, “Therefore, however you want people to treat you so treat them for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). He also said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39; cf. Rom. 13:10). In gambling, the object is to try to take advantage of the other party– to beat them out of profit. Who is “hurt” when you win? One cannot gamble and follow the teaching of Christ.
3. Gambling is sinful because it contradicts the work ethic taught in the Scriptures.
The Word of God teaches that men are to work for the earnings they receive. “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2Thess. 3:10; also see Gen. 1:19). The attitude behind gambling is to get rich quick and easy at someone else’s expense. This attitude does not follow the teaching of the Scriptures.
4. Gambling is sinful because it results in lack of self-control.
The Lord requires moderation and self-control / temperance in all things. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23; also see 2Pet.1:5-11).
5. Gambling is sinful because it is a form of covetousness.
The word “covet” means, “eager to have more, i.e. to have what belongs to others; hence, greedy of gain.” Regardless of how large or small the stakes are, covetousness is the basis of gambling. “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience” (Col. 3:5-6). Jesus said, Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Lk. 12:15).
6. Gambling is also sinful because it sets a bad example before others.
One must be concerned about their influence for what is good and right. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. Jesus declared, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:13-16). No one who gambles follows this teaching.
These biblical principles declare gambling to be sinful and therefore something from which a child of God should abstain. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instruction us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age” (Tit. 2:11-12).