The butcher said, “Yes.”
The man replies, “I’ll bet you $50 that you can’t reach up and touch that meat hanging on the hooks up there.”
The butcher said, “I’m not betting on that.”
“But I thought you were a gambling man?” the man retorts.
“I am,” said the butcher, “but the steaks are too high.”
That joke made me wonder how many people consider if the stakes might be too high to start gambling or keep gambling, especially since gambling has some major setbacks. In the introduction to his book, “The Free Drink: The Gambling Addiction Epidemic,” author Michael G. Borresen wrote, “The gambling industry has given birth to millions of sick addicted compulsive or pathological gamblers who are caught up in the fantasy of the gambling addiction disease epidemic worldwide. This disease of the mind has reached epidemic proportions and is growing at a fast rate.”
Borresen, a former gambling addict himself, added, “The gambling disease is a hidden disease because the illness is an addiction of the mind that is a mental, psychological, and a behavioral addiction. Powerful gambling addiction is a clinical disease that is progressive in nature. Gambling addiction can start out as recreational gambling and then turn into problem gambling and then to compulsive gambling and finally into a full blown pathological gambling disorder.”
The Mega Millions Jackpot that reached some $640 million, becoming the largest jackpot in U.S. history, had people coming out to gamble who had never bought a ticket before. Using the theme, “You can’t win if you don’t play,” millions took the bait and ultimately gave away their hard-earned money in a sluggish economy.
In his book “Gambling in America,” Baylor University professor Earl Grinols estimates that addicted gamblers cost the United States between $32.4 billion and $53.8 billion a year. In addition to causing untold financial problems for countless people, it also produces fractured relationships and a form of frustration that can slowly affect one’s mental and physical health.
Dr. Timothy Fong, a co-director of the gambling studies program and an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, said, “We think of gambling addiction as a silent killer.”
Even if you are not in the small percentage of people who are diagnosed with the psychiatric disorder of gambling addiction, there is an even greater danger for Christians who wish to live by Bible principles.
At Luke 12:15, Jesus said, “Watch out! Guard yourself against all kinds of greed. After all, one’s life isn’t determined by one’s possessions, even when someone is very wealthy.” — Common English Bible.
On his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also stated, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” — Common English Bible.”
It is not difficult to find lotto winners who lost themselves, their families, their happiness and their money — wishing they had never won — all because they did not guard themselves against all kinds of greed. Some have even lost their lives due to stress and murder plots to possess what they have.
It reminds us of the words at 1Timothy 6:9-10, which says, “People who want to be rich fall into all sorts of temptations and traps. They are caught by foolish and harmful desires that drag them down and destroy them. The love of money causes all kinds of trouble. Some people want money so much that they have given up their faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.” — Contemporary English Version.
Have you seen this sort of self-destructive behavior by those who are determined to be rich and risk what they have by gambling? As a child, I saw first-hand the destructive nature of gambling and its impact on my family. Millions are aware of its snares but decide to reach out for something they crave without prayerfully considering that “the stakes are too high.”
1Corinthians 6:10 says, “the greedy” will not inherit the kingdom of God. — New International Version. Greed can be more costly than we might imagine. Would risking your family, your mental, physical and spiritual health, make the stakes too high for you?
Millions have decided to heed Jesus’ advice at Matthew 6:19-21, “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal. Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — New World Translation.
Is it better to share what we have than risk it on the odds of getting rich? You decide. But the odds are always in our favor when we trust in God for success and do not bet on gambling.