The Lottery Curse
The lottery is a popular form of legalized gambling in many parts of the world. How does it work? A ticket is bought with certain numbers, and, if the numbers come up in the drawing, the ticket holder can win millions of dollars (sometimes much more). Why do people play the lottery? The fundamental reason is quite obvious: they want to get rich! A materialistic, covetous spirit is possessed by most gamblers (whether they realize it or not). Statistically, the odds of winning a big jackpot are exceedingly slim (you're more likely to be hit by lightning). But, that doesn't stop people from pouring their money into tickets, all in the hope of getting rich!

The purpose of this lesson is not to set forth reasons why gambling is wrong biblically. Perhaps we will do such in a future lesson. I want to instead concentrate on what is commonly referred to as "the lottery curse." The lottery curse is when someone wins the lottery and expects their life to change radically for the better. However, instead of a blissful life with millions of dollars, things go horribly wrong.

Let me give you some examples of this "curse," and then share some insights on it from the Bible:

These are just a few cases I'm familiar with. There are numerous cases of lotto winners getting divorced. Many are broke in a matter of years. A few have even died at the hands of greedy relatives. Those who play the lottery have huge hopes and dreams, but the people that actually win big often lose big. In the end, they often wish they'd never even played!

Although Paul didn't specifically mention the lottery in his letter to Timothy, the principles he lays down are exceedingly valuable on this subject:

"Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich [e.g., lottery players - SRB] fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Tim. 6:6-10).

Dear friends, it is so much better to embrace our lot in life rather than destroying ourselves through gambling, criminal activity, or working ourselves to death in an effort to get rich! Listen to the wisdom of God and learn to be content with the simple things in life--the essentials. Those who get rich often destroy themselves in the process (as we have seen above), but let us not overlook the fact that there are many others who never get rich, but they yearn for it so much that it consumes them too. The love of money causes problems for both the rich and poor alike.

It cannot be denied that money is a tool that can be used for much good--as long as its owner possesses it (and not vice versa), but this is hard to do! Christians who are rich should take heed "not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy" (I Tim. 6:17). They should be "rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (I Tim. 6:18,19). Contentment is an attitude one chooses; it's not a by-product of getting rich.