Twizzlers and Lotteries
“We don’t give them [our children] a pound of twizzlers, it will make them sick.
Likewise, I believe it is usually the grace of God to withhold this kind of money from his children.”
The above is my take away quote from this article by Tim Kimberley on whether he should buy a lottery ticket. I think he is right, though I confess I have bought a few over my life, six to be exact, five of which were bought at one sitting at the request of a relative who gave me the money. And to be honest I knew it was not right. Sounds sort of judgmental and self-righteous doesn’t it? Let me explain just a tad.
In his excellent article (which by now you should have read) Tim gives several ways he worked through the process of making his decision. The two key ones were that he did not trust himself to simply give it away to the cause of Christ and second, the massive cost in joy and life that past winners have suffered. And he is right. I don’t trust myself further than I can spit (and when I spit it tends to just dribble down my chin three out of four tries). Money is the great idol of my country, we spend an inordinate amount of time believing that it is what will fix things. Our decision-making about world crises? Money. The cause of violence in our cities? Poverty. The reason our children come out of school dumber than when they went in? Not enough money spent on teachers.
This hope in the power of money is so much part of what we are that we reveal daily the truth of Jesus’ words, “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:21 NASB) But sadly it is so easy to not believe this is true in my heart, no I would be different. And this is because we do not have a hefty, rich, well-rounded understanding of the biblical description of our hearts and the propensity for idolatry that flows in our hearts even as though redeemed in Jesus Christ.
Jesus doesn’t tell us to hope in money, he tells us (commands) to trust in God and keep our eyes on the age to come that will not pass away and where we shall be joint heirs with Jesus. And to the person who says, “If I win the lottery I will give it all away to missions,” I would say that it is better to take the dollar you would spend on it and give that to missions. And every time you are tempted to buy something that is to bring you riches, give the money needed to participate away to missions. And trust in Him who is Lord over all creation to extend His work through His power and might.
Do we believe the words of Jesus that we cannot serve both money and God at the same time? Do we believe the Spirit who tells us that money is the root of all sorts of evil? Solomon said it bluntly, “Riches do not deliver in the day of wrath. . . .” (Prov. 11:4) so why would you pursue it? And finally, does our Lord speak in jest when He says, “A faithful man will abound with blessings, But he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.” (Prov 28:20)