Winning the lottery doesn’t bring some people happiness

Published 6:07 am Sunday, February 13, 2022

What would you do if you won a million dollars? Would it change the way you live?
On Christmas Day 2002, Jack Whittaker of WV got the news: he had just won the largest undivided lottery in U.S. history — a whopping $314 million!
Taxes took $200 million, but that still left Jack with over $100 million.
According to a major news service, “Since that pinnacle of fleeting happiness, Jack’s life spiraled downward. Among other things, he reportedly was arrested twice on drunken-driving charges and robbed of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash at a strip club. Jack also pleaded no contest to assault charges and was ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous. His wife said she wished she’d torn up the lottery ticket.”
There are some who claim gambling is merely an innocent pastime.
Try telling that to an NBA referee who was sentenced to 25 years in jail for gambling on basketball games.
Or how about the greatest “hits” leader in professional baseball, Pete Rose? He was barred from the Baseball Hall of Fame for gambling on baseball games.
These are only two of a long list of men and women who have gambled and lost more than they bargained for.
Gambling is a thief, whether it’s a slot machine, lottery ticket, or a high-stakes card game.
Gambling is also a killer.
There are many stories of ruined lives over “just one more throw of the dice.”
More than one person has gone to Las Vegas in a $50,000 Cadillac and returned on a $500,000 Greyhound bus.
Despite legislation worldwide to constrain gambling among adolescents and young people, modern technology (such as online gaming apps and online gambling venues) has significantly increased their exposure to the risks of problem gambling.
The Bible teaches that material gain without commensurate work or investment is immoral.
Millions of Americans are caught up in gambling, from two-dollar investments in the lottery to huge bets in poker and other games of chance.
So how can a person tell if they are addicted to gambling?
The National Council on Problem Gambling reports a person may have a gambling problem and should seek help if he or she has done even one of the following:
1) Often gambled longer than planned;
2) Often gambled until his or her last dollar was gone;
3) Used income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid;
4) Borrowed money to finance gambling;
5) Broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance a gambling habit;
6) Felt depressed or suicidal because of gambling losses;
7) Lost sleep over gambling;
8) Been remorseful after gambling;
9) Gambled to get money to meet financial obligations;
10) Made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling.
The truth is: money can buy you many things but not character.
Instead of wondering what we would do if we won a million dollars—here are some better questions to consider: What do we do with the money we have now?
Do we lighten the load of anybody?
Do we feed any hungry people? Support any orphans?
Help educate the illiterate?
Undergird a church ministries program?
Or do we just buy a bigger boat, another suit, a wider-screen TV, and the umpteenth pair of shoes?
There’s nothing wrong with any of those things unless that’s the main goal of our efforts.
Jesus taught in Matthew 6:19-21, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth… but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Instead of betting on the next “big win,” let’s put God first, store up treasure in heaven and help our fellow man.
That’s a worth-while investment and a life worth living!

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.

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