Evangelist Billy Graham has said that before you play the lottery, it's important to remember two Bible truths about money and its role in the life of a Christian.
In his syndicated advice column posted Thursday, the 98-year-old evangelist responded a reader, who asked why they hadn't won the lottery yet despite praying to God.
The reader asked: "We've had a lot of financial problems the last few years, and several months ago I decided the only way out was to win our state's lottery. But so far I've hardly won anything, in spite of our repeated prayers. Why won't God listen to us?"
Graham first said he "seriously doubts" the reader was listening to God when they decided to solve your money problems in this way: "What if you had saved the money you've spent on lottery tickets, and had used it instead to help pay your debts?" he asked. "I suspect you'd be far ahead of where you are right now. Remember: God has not promised to bless plans or schemes that are not from Him."
While the Bible doesn't say much about gambling, it does tell us two important truths that one should keep in mind before gambling.
"First, it warns us about the dangers of greed," said Graham. "When greed grips our souls (as often happens with gambling), money takes over our lives - and that is wrong."
Second, the Bible urges us to use our money wisely, and to save all we can," the evangelist said, quoting Proverbs 10:4, which states, "Diligent hands bring wealth."
Instead of gambling, Graham advised the reader to turn their money problems - and their lives - over to Jesus.
"Then make a realistic budget for your family, and stick to it," he said. "In addition, seek wise advice concerning your finances. God loves you, and He wants to help you face your problems realistically."
According to statistics, over 80 percent of American adults gamble on a yearly basis, and three to five gamblers out of every hundred struggles with a gambling problem. As many as 750,000 young people, ages 14 to 21 has a gambling addiction.
In an earlier "My Answer" column on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, the evangelist argued that for the believer in Jesus Christ, there should be no appeal to take part in gambling.
"Gambling is nowhere approved in the Bible. Instead, the Bible stresses that the Christian should earn his living by honest work and effort, and this would exclude relying on chance (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)," Graham said. "The Bible tells us to 'abstain from all appearance of evil' (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Gambling has often done untold evil to people by making them lose money that could be used for good purposes or even the necessities of life. Money is given to us by God to be used for good, not evil. Anyone seeking to do God's will should not be involved in gambling."
He goes on to say, "Gambling is also wrong because of the motives involved. Some people gamble for thrills and excitement. Others gamble because they have a greedy and covetous attitude about money. Some gamble out of a false belief in luck. All of these motives are wrong for the Christian, for they are all self-centered and materialistic." Passages in the Bible which warn against greed and covetousness are Exodus 20:15, 17; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; and Colossians 3:5."