Keep Lottery Winnings Out of the Church!

True North Community Church in Port Jefferson, New York had a difficult decision to make this week.  Unfortunately, they chose poorly.  The Long Island place of worship is a young and growing church that found itself cramped in its present facilities.  A few weeks ago the Lead Pastor stated that if anybody in the congregation had a couple of million extra dollars lying around they should make an appointment to see him.  He told them God could work a miracle and provide the money if He wanted to.  Then it happened.  A parishioner presented the church with a winning lottery ticket worth more than three million dollars and the pastors had to respond.   

 

Should they (or we for that matter) accept money from gambling winnings?  Why not, you may ask?  Is gambling a sin?  What about accepting the profits of gambling if in fact you or I did not participate in said gambling?  While there is no verse in the Bible that reads, ‘don’t gamble because it is a sin’, there are multiple verses that tell us to avoid ill-gotten gain, greed, slothfulness and poor stewardship. 

 

Further, consider the evils of the gambling industry for a moment.  Gaming institutions encourage people to come and have fun while they take money from men who should be feeding their families.  They sell themselves as entertainment venues that are fueled by the discretionary income of normal Americans.  However, they are fueled by habitual gamblers that spend wealth until it’s gone and incur debts most simply can never repay.  This leads to the ruin of individuals, the break-ups of marriages, the abandonment of children,  dependence upon drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms and the ultimate destruction of many families just to name a few of the social strains and ramifications. 

 

The gaming industry in this country is evil and the church has no business benefiting from it!  You may argue that the church could take this ill-gotten money and use it for good.  We could be the ‘good stewards’ of this improbable windfall.  But if we do so we fuel the industry and become the ultimate beneficiaries of this great sin. 

 

Playing the lottery and visiting gaming institutions equates to stealing from the poor and enslaving them rather than helping, feeding or serving them as God commands!  I am convinced that Jesus would have us serve those who suffer from bondage to this sin rather than to further take advantage of them. 

 

As a pastor, I feel a responsibility to refuse such an offering of a winning lottery ticket the same way I would refuse money from a recently converted drug lord or the wealth of newly saved former pornographer.  Rather than soil God’s coffers with dirty money gained in the destruction of the lives of countless men and women I would offer counsel better suited to advance the Kingdom of God and redemption of mankind.  My pastoral advice to the lottery winner, drug-runner or sex-industry kingpin would be to use the money gained in sinful allegiance to the god of this world to love, minister to and reclaim the lives that are being ruined from these practices.

 

Non-profit, para-church ministries could be formed with this money to help strippers and prostitutes find a noble and honorable profession that restores their ingrained dignity as image-bearers of God.  It could be used to give drug addicts a place to recover and find deliverance through Jesus Christ.  It could enable credit-ruined gambling addicts to abandon chance in favor of embracing the sovereignty of God.  There are thousands of ways to redeem this wealth while maintaining the purity of the Bride of Christ, His beautiful church.  

 

My prayer is that True North Community Church sees the error of their decision to accept a winning lottery ticket and repents of benefiting from ill-gotten gain. 

 

[Proverbs 1:19 Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it.   Proverbs 10:2 Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death.   Proverbs 28:16 & 1916 A tyrannical ruler lacks judgment, but he who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long life…19 He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.]

 

May you and I pursue the purity of the church at all costs and support her by being good stewards of that which God has entrusted us.  And may many trapped in the sex, drug and gambling industries find deliverance through Jesus Christ and repent and serve others to the praise of His glorious grace!

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10 responses to “Keep Lottery Winnings Out of the Church!

  1. Way back when the Arizona lottery first started in 1984, I was tempted to buy tickets- what could it hurt to spend a couple of dollars on a chance to hit it big? Jogging through the park one day, I saw a lottery ticket on the ground and picked it up thinking it was trash; it was a five dollar one and with the winning numbers to be picked the next day. I won nothing. I didn’t even get one number. I saw it as God telling me “If I wanted you to play the lottery, I could just give you a winning ticket!” Lesson learned.

  2. People need to take more responsiblity for their own actions instead of blaming their irresponsiblity on the devil. I really don’t see that big of a difference between people who invest in the stock market and people who buy lottery tickets. When you buy stocks, there is no guarantee that you will profit. I’m sure there are many churches who accept tithes that were received from people who play the stock market. And unless a pastor has a very small congregation, I don’t know how they can determine where all the tithes are coming from. As far as profitting from the poor…there are many businesses that profit from the poor. Look at Payday Loan companies, if you want to talk about people who take advantage of the poor. If people buy a lottery ticket it is their choice, no one is forcing them to buy a ticket. That’s why only adults can buy tickets. It’s assumed that once we are an adult that we take responsibility for our choices. How many people stop off at starbucks every morning and throw away $5 on a cup of coffee…..every single day! Then they’re all pumped up on cafeinne and get behind the wheel of their car and act aggressively and take that same hyper energy into the office and are edgy to their co-corkers. We can find sin just about anywhere if we look for it.

  3. Whoa! This is a very sticky issue and I am not sure how I would have responded. Heath, I admire your passion on this one, but I have to lean toward V a little here. May I ask you to consider your own words from this post?

    “My pastoral advice to the lottery winner, drug-runner or sex-industry kingpin would be to use the money gained in sinful allegiance to the god of this world to love, minister to and reclaim the lives that are being ruined from these practices. Non-profit, para-church ministries could be formed with this money to help strippers and prostitutes find a noble and honorable profession that restores their ingrained dignity as image-bearers of God. It could be used to give drug addicts a place to recover and find deliverance through Jesus Christ. It could enable credit-ruined gambling addicts to abandon chance in favor of embracing the sovereignty of God. There are thousands of ways to redeem this wealth while maintaining the purity of the Bride of Christ, His beautiful church.”

    Wouldn’t giving the money to a church for the purposes you outlined above being redeeming (pun totally intended) the lottery ticket? Like you, I think the gambling industry is just taking advantage of addictive behavior, so, the pastor could counsel the “winner” never to play again while accepting the winnings if he/she chose to redeem the money in that way. The Bride of Christ and God’s people in the OT are called adulterous wives, prostitutes, and and rebellious children. Yet God redeemed and us to bring good fruit from bad harvests. Why not use the fruit of this sinful behavior for good if it is offered to God in an attitude of repentance with a desire to help further His kingdom?

  4. This a difficult problem , a lot of factors surrounds this article . There must be something to do ..

  5. bruce d. smith

    I do not think it would be ok to accept the winnings seeing that it comes from a sinful practice. To accept the winnings would to me be sending a message to the gambler that it’s ok to gamble. To refuse the winnings would say to the gambler that there is something wrong with what you are doing. It would be awfully hard for a church to convince somebody that gambling was wrong while receiving the winnings that come from it. To me it spells confusion. If I were in a pastoral position I think I would explain that the church could not accept the money that comes from gambling because of it’s sinful nature thereby dealing with the gamblers conscience but suggest that instead he give it to some orphanage or some other needful institution. This way a good deed could be done without the church being mixed up in ill-gotten gain or making it seem in any way that gambling has the churches blessings. In other words, the church would remain pure,the gambler would be convicted and the needy would be helped.

  6. I must say this question has always been on my mind. In my opinion, God is the creator of all things including mankind. Man has chosen to live by choice as he or she understands. People seek daily to understand faith and it blessing to come to light. Jesus Christ has given hope to those will except Him as the Lord and Savior. This silent person acted out of Love, not Hate. Lottery playing is also a choice where man or women can cast their belief on an change to make a difference. Churches in the community are always asking for financial help or assistance for building, the needy, youth programs, transportation, etc. which is for those suffering in todays world. Money is only as dirty is the man or women who holds malice in their heart. The Pastor of a church given money of this nature should spend every penny restoring those in the community around them. We are not to judge the Church for the behavior of those who we assume is gulity of ill-gotten gains, but look how God took a ticket and converted over to good harvest. A man of God has the Holy Spirit within and is called to do what’s best for the people, not himself. In the Bible, Scripture does not state gambling is a sin, but does speak on ill gotten gains. Men with malice and evil intent is the one we should look for. The Pastor of North Community Church has been blessed……….. Why you asked? God has mysterious ways of blessing others from unexpected places. “Always Give GOD the Glory”

  7. This is a new delima for me. Growing up I was taught that gambling was wrong. I even saw a movie from the 50’s where a man wouldn’t accept a reward for finding a lost pet cause it was ill gotten gain. That is my question. When is something ill gotten? I had a man who plays the lottery today tell me that God wants us to be rich and that it is Satan who wants to make us poor. PEOPLE DON’T READ THE BIBLE. Was Jesus rich with money from a human standpoint? How about his disciples who lived a hard life just to tell others about eternal things? They were not living for luxury. I know a lot of “Christians” who play the lottery without batting an eyelash. If you give in to the minor issues how will you stand against the major ones that will cost you your blood such as Christians living in Muslim countries. We all need to get some guts and when in doubt take the route most holy! Myself included.

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  9. Apostle Mj Maduna

    We are struggling to extend the church of God

  10. YOUR JUST JEALOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!

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