At first glance, gambling seems fun and harmless. But the reality is with casinos, lottery tickets, and online gambling, gambling is becoming more of a problem in people’s lives. Our society today loves instant gratification and get-rich-quick schemes, but the Bible tells Christians not to rely on these things.
Can Christians gamble? Christians should not gamble. The Bible says that gambling is focused on loving and trusting in money rather than God, and gambling can easily become an addiction. Christians should not gamble but instead steward what they have well and rely on Jesus, who is greater than gambling.
If you’re a Christian who’s struggling with gambling or knows others who are, know that Jesus wants to walk with you in that, heal you, and completely satisfy you with His love and provision.
It’s easy to justify gambling and why we could need it, but ultimately we have to look at what the Bible says about gambling and live our lives with Jesus at the center.
What The Bible Says About Gambling
The Bible never mentions the word gambling, but God is clear that we should not have any idols before Him or love anything more than we love Him.
Gambling can easily become an idol in people’s lives. It’s coveting something we don’t have, and the Bible says that is a sin.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.Colossians 3:5 ESV
God says this to us because His love and presence are for our good, and sin blinds us from God’s presence.
Gambling and other sins may seem better in the moment, but God’s love is always a million times greater. God knows we need His love and wants to give it to us, but we cannot experience it if we are idolizing something over Him.
The Bible also warns us against get-rich-quick schemes and instead tells us to work diligently and be patient as we build up wealth little by little.
Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.Proverbs 13:11 ESV
This proverb is a great principle for making wise choices about our money. This doesn’t mean God will never give us wealth quickly, but it does tell us that it’s more worth it to work hard at something for the Lord than to frantically gain wealth.
Remember the story Jesus told of the prodigal son in Luke 15? The prodigal son took his father’s inheritance and spent it hastily. He probably spent a decent amount on gambling.
…the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.Luke 15:13b NIV
His actions lead him to a desperate state, where all he had left was to go back to his father’s house. The son knew that what he had done was wrong, but he was willing to say sorry.
When the father saw his son, he came running to meet him and embraced him. His father forgave him, threw a party for him, and welcomed him back into the family because of his great love for him.
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.Lue 15:24 NIV
The father is like God, and if you’ve been struggling with gambling, you can know that God wants to accept you back into the family. He loves you, and He wants to set you free.
Jesus isn’t just interested in your life after death, He’s interested in every single part of it now. He won’t shy away from any area of your life, including what your relationship is with gambling.
Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again so that he could save anyone who believes in Him. He wants a relationship with you, both now and for the rest of eternity, and He’s willing to send His Holy Spirit to help you if you ask Him.
Reasons Why Christians Shouldn’t Gamble
‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything.1 Corinthians 6:12 ESV
The apostle Paul said that as Christians, everything is permissible because we have God’s grace. But that shouldn’t mean that we still want to live in sin.
Christians are called to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love others as themselves. These commands don’t compromise for sin and that’s why God doesn’t want us to gamble.
As Christians, we shouldn’t gamble. Instead, we want to do things that are helpful for others and we don’t want to create stumbling blocks for the body of Christ. The Bible also tells us that we shouldn’t be enslaved by anything, including gambling.
God’s way of living for us is so much better. Christians shouldn’t gamble because it goes against God’s way for us. It’s focused on a love for money, is poor stewardship, can easily become an addiction, and it doesn’t glorify God.
All those things are not a part of the abundant life that Jesus says we can have in Him.
A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.John 10:10 CSB
1. Gambling Is Focused On A Love For Money
The Bible never says that money itself is bad, in fact, it can be used for great good, but a love for money is evil.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.1 Timothy 6:10 ESV
If loving money and gambling is going to get us wandering away from our faith, then we should steer clear of it and be content with what God has already given us.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’Hebrews 13:5 ESV
We can be content with what we have, even if we have nothing else because we have Jesus in our lives. Jesus says that He will never leave us or forsake us.
This love should motivate us to follow Jesus more closely, listen to His word, and grow our relationship with Him. Gambling doesn’t get to tear us away from that. Romans 8 says nothing is strong enough to separate us from the love of God that we have in Christ Jesus.
2. Gambling Is Poor Stewardship
In the beginning, God gave Adam dominion and stewardship over all the earth. In God’s original design, He wanted us to rule perfectly with Him. But because of Adam’s fall, he plunged the world into sin and under satan’s rule.
From there, humans naturally have the tendency to sin and to steward their possessions, like money, poorly. But Jesus came, died, and rose again, returning full stewardship of the earth to Himself.
When Jesus ascended to the Father, He said all authority had been given to Him from there on out. Now, as coheirs with Christ, we get to steward what we have well and image Him perfectly again through Jesus.
Jesus teaches us how to steward anything we have well, including our money. God has given it to us after all, since every good gift is from Him.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace1 Peter 4:10 ESV
We aren’t called to solely steward out time in church well, or our quiet time well, we’re called to steward every area of our life well because Jesus affects every part of our life. Since this is true, we can trust Jesus to help us steward our money well.
Part of this stewardship process means that God wants us to use our gifts and money as a way to serve others, not ourselves. When we gamble, we are only serving our selfish desires.
God wants us to live abundant, blessed lives, but that only happens when we live according to His word and truth.
If we choose to keep on rebelling by gambling, we can’t experience His blessing because we aren’t being faithful to what God has given us.
If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?Luke 16:11 ESV
Our true riches and treasures are not from this earth. Money can only get us so much in our lives. But, when we do everything for God’s glory and work heartily for Him, we can store up eternal treasures for ourselves in heaven.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Matthew 6:19-21 NIV
3. Gambling Can Easily Become An Addiction
They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.2 Peter 2:19 ESV
If gambling has or can overcome someone, it can be an addiction. Addictions enslave people, and while they may feel good for a time, they are untimately sin.
Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.’John 8:34 ESV
Even if God didn’t see gambling as a sin, who would want to trust Him if He was ok with His children becoming addicted to something?
The adrenaline rush, hopes for riches, and the pressure of others may make us desperate for gambling, but the only thing humans were meant to be desperate for is Jesus.
Jesus is not a bad person to be desperate for. He’s the best, actually. He loves us, He died for us, and He sets us free from our sin and shame.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.Galatians 5:1 ESV
Through Jesus’ resurrection power and through His Holy Spirit, we have the ability to say no to being slaves of sin. We get to choose if we want to put on the yoke of slavery or the easy yoke of Jesus.
Matthew 11 says that Jesus’ yoke is easy and light, and if we put on His yoke we will find rest.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
Jesus is making it clear that He is greater than any other yokes or addictions we may face.
Addictions of gambling do not have the final word. People are not too far gone if they are addicted to gambling, because through Jesus’ love, they can put away their yoke to slavery and take on Jesus’ yoke of grace and rest.
Jesus is the ultimate satisfier of our souls. He sets us free from the ways of the world. Christians can know this and know that it is for freedom that Christ has set them free. Because of this, they should not gamble but instead, rely on Jesus.
4. Gambling Makes People Rely On Themselves, Not On God
Gambling can easily become an idol and a way to rely on an adrenaline rush and get-rich-quick schemes rather than on God’s love and provision.
God is the provider of every good gift, and He provides everything we need. He does not provide things we can get addicted to like gambling.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.James 1:17 ESV
Many people believe in luck and that they can rely on it to get what they want, but God tells Christians in His word that He is sovereign and that they can rely on Him. Gambling, on the other hand, says that we cannot trust Him to provide what we need.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV
God wants us to be rich in faith in Him and good works. That may not mean we’ll be rich according to the world’s standards, but when we’re seeking God before everything else, we’ll have everything God knows we need.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.Matthew 6:33 ESV
When we are following God, we get to experience His blessings as we walk with Him in His steps. God is trustworthy, faithful, and reliable, and Christians can know that seeking His righteousness is much better than gambling.
5. Gambling Doesn’t Glorify God
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
Christians are called to glorify God in all they do. Because gambling doesn’t give glory to God, Christians shouldn’t gamble.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!Psalm 115:1 ESV
God is too good not to give glory to. If you’re not experiencing God’s love and faithfulness, I pray that He would reveal to you just how faithful and loving He’s been to you.
When we know how good He is, gambling doesn’t seem so great anymore. When we know how good Jesus is, we get to give Him all the glory, not to ourselves, because He is greater than everything.
Jesus Is Greater Than Gambling
In Matthew 4, the Bible tells us how Jesus was tempted of every kind of temptation in the wilderness by the devil. This means that Jesus knows how hard it is to say no to gambling because He Himself was tempted with it.
But, Christians know that though Jesus was tempted, He never gave into those temptations.
1 John says that the great news is that Jesus is greater than gambling, temptations, and sin.
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.1 John 4:4
Jesus lived a sinless life and died for our sins so that we could give them to Him and have eternal life with Him both now and for the rest of forever.
If you’re struggling with gambling or have before, you can know that Jesus is willing to forgive you and make you new. He wants to live life with you, transform your heart and renew your mind.
Even if your heat is condemning you, God is not because God is greater than your heart.
This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows all things.1 John 3:19-20 CSB
Jesus wants to heal you and have a relationship with you, whether you struggle with gambling or know someone who does.