Oh Lord won’t You buy me a Mercedes Benz…

I’d like to win the lotto. I’d be a good steward of the money. I really would. I could give 10, 20, even 30% to my church and other worthy ministries. And I would still have plenty left over to provide a decent (if not extravagant) lifestyle for my family.

But I don’t play the lottery. I just don’t buy lottery tickets. Statistically, by the way, that gives me roughly the same chance at winning as anyone else. I just have a fundamental problem with the concept.

I’m not going to rail against gambling. I’m not a gambler, but I won’t be legalistic about it. I really don’t have problems with friendly card games. I’m not against betting on a round of golf (in my case that isn’t really gambling, it’s more of a decision to give someone else my money).

But the lottery is different (as is most institutionalized gambling). I’ve often joked that the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math. But it’s more than that. The lottery is a tax on the people who can least afford it. The poor. It’s a tax on people’s hopes, their dreams, their desperation. The poor are much more likely to spend large portions of their income on the lottery.

John Piper has written an article on the lottery. He tells his congregation that he will not knowingly accept a tithe from any money won from gambling. I applaud his stance. It’s a courageous thing for a church to do, and a lot of churches wouldn’t be strong enough or have the conscience to take such a stand (can you imagine Joel Osteen turning down a $17 million check?)

I can afford to buy a few lottery tickets each month. I probably could buy quite a few and not impact my life much. But I won’t. And I pray that you won’t either.

soli Deo gloria


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