What Does the Bible Tell Us About Gambling?

Bible gambling image
The First Sin. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Bible is the foundation of moral values and spiritual beliefs for the world’s most prominent religious group. But how does the holy book of Christianity look upon gambling, and is an affinity towards wagering treated as a sin?   

When we say that something is as old as the Bible, we mean that it has been around for a very long time.  And rightfully so, as it is estimated that the first Bible texts were penned down as far back as 1,200 years before the birth of Christ. 

Within the Bible, multiple references prove that gambling was practised in the Levantine region since the earliest of times.  Wagering was part of life in biblical times, from betting on specific events and competitions to various dice games. Yet, the term “gambling” is never explicitly mentioned anywhere in the scripture.

However, some verses imply that love of money and becoming affluent through quick means is immoral:

“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 pangs.” – Timothy 6:9-10

Is Gambling Linked to Feeding of Desires?

Jesus mentions on numerous occasions that when people covet something, they create a breeding ground for death and sin.  Coveting anything, from physical objects to individuals, brings with it envy and lust, which often leads to sin.  When we earn what we desire through honest means that don’t stray away from our convictions, we open ourselves to wisdom, love, abundance and freedom.

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law…” – Galatians 5:19-24

Idolising a False Reality

Anything that promotes love of money is seen as an illusion in the Bible.  In the scriptures, God encourages man not to idolise cash and obtain it through honest labours and hard work alone.  For anyone who chooses to serve both the Lord and money will forever be in direct conflict between the two.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” – Matthew 6:24 

Life Filled with Contentment Bears Fruit

The Bible doesn’t discourage man to have money, but it reiterates that it should always be used for the proper purposes, such as caring and exercising generosity.  Both old and new testaments ask us not to pursue greed and avoid desiring what others have.  

“What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” – Mark 7:20-23

Money can always be accumulated and used for good, as long as it doesn’t interfere with a person’s responsibilities or is obtained wrongfully at others’ expense.  So occasional splurging is allowed, but when it goes beyond this and becomes more important than personal and family wellbeing, as well as faith, then it needs to be addressed.

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” – Mark 8:36 

Can Gambling Be Classified as a Sin?

Gambling addiction is a real problem for countless people.  In Peter 2:19, the Bible states that “a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” Knowing that over two million adults in the US are pathological gambling addicts and a further six million are problem gamblers, the aforementioned Bible verse rings true.

While gambling may not be deemed a sin, there’s no benefit from any kind of addiction or enslavement. The Bible indicates that we should all follow the right path and be bestowed with all of the treasures we could ever wish for.

“Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” – Matthew 6:32-33

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