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What does God say about buying lottery tickets?

The question of whether it is acceptable for Christians to buy lottery tickets is one that has been debated for many years. There are arguments on both sides of the issue, with some Christians believing that playing the lottery goes against biblical principles, while others think it is permissible in moderation. In order to understand what God might say about buying lottery tickets, we will look at some relevant Bible passages, the views of Christian leaders throughout history, and the key considerations around stewardship, contentment, motive and charity that shape this issue.

Relevant Bible Passages

There are a few Bible verses that can provide insight into God’s perspective on lottery winnings and gaining riches suddenly:

  • Proverbs 13:11 – “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” This proverb encourages sustainable wealth over quick riches.
  • Proverbs 28:20 – “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” This warns against hastily desiring to be rich.
  • Proverbs 28:22 – “A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him.” This reminds us that greed and stinginess can lead to poverty.
  • Matthew 6:19-21 – “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.” This encourages storing up eternal treasure rather than earthly wealth.
  • 1 Timothy 6:6-10 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” This passage warns against the love of money and a desire to be rich, encouraging contentment.

These verses seem to generally discourage hastily gaining riches, emphasize sustainable wealth and contentment, and warn against greed and the love of money. While the lottery is never directly mentioned, we can derive some principles that excessive lottery winnings could potentially violate if not handled carefully and prayerfully.

Historical Christian Views

Throughout Christian history, there has been some debate over whether playing the lottery is acceptable. Here are some perspectives from prominent Christians over the centuries:

  • St. Augustine (354-430 AD) was against gambling, believing that drawing lots was a form of superstition that Christians should avoid.
  • Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) differentiated between games of pure chance like dice, which he saw as sinful, and games that involved some skill and virtue. This view could allow for some forms of lottery or raffle that involved participants actively supporting a good cause.
  • John Wesley (1703-1791) believed most forms of gambling were morally wrong, as they promoted covetousness and greed. He associated lotteries with the sinful love of money.
  • Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) criticized the lottery as appealing to human greed and tending toward addiction. However, he did not outright forbid Christians from modest gambling.
  • Billy Graham (1918-2018) differentiated between immoral gambling focused solely on the desire for gain, and small stakes gambling for entertainment. He discouragedChristians from lottery participation but did not declare modest gambling inherently sinful.

In general, prominent Christians throughout history have viewed excessive and addictive gambling focused purely on gain as morally questionable. However, many have allowed for the possibility of small stakes wagering for entertainment. Overall, greed and materialism are seen as the root sins behind immoral gambling from a Christian lens. Buying an occasional lottery ticket has historically been discouraged but not definitively prohibited if done for fun and not for purely selfish gain.

Key Considerations around Stewardship, Contentment and Motive

When evaluating what God might think about buying lottery tickets, it is useful to reflect on the following considerations:


  • Is playing the lottery a wise use of the financial resources God has given you to steward?
  • Gambling with the aim of amassing wealth for oneself could be viewed as poor stewardship.
  • Occasional, small stakes gambling for entertainment may be acceptable stewardship in moderation.
  • Excessive gambling risks squandering resources God provided for other purposes like caring for your family, giving generously, paying your bills, etc.


  • Is buying lottery tickets driven by dissatisfaction and greed or a desire for earthly riches?
  • Playing the lottery with the hope of never having to work again or gaining extravagant luxury may reveal a lack of godly contentment.
  • Moderately playing with a spirit of fun and entertainment may not violate the principle of contentment.
  • Wanting to win the lottery in order to stop working and live lavishly in leisure goes against the biblical view of work as good and honorable.

Motive and Intention

  • What is your motive for buying a lottery ticket? Is it purely for selfish gain or to fuel covetous dreams?
  • Wanting to win the lottery in order to live an easy, self-centered life is not a godly motive.
  • Prayerfully playing for the joy of participating and the possibility of blessing others with the winnings can be a purer motive.
  • The heart behind why you play is very important – self-centeredness and greed are incompatible with Christian values.

Carefully examining your motives and attitude around stewardship and contentment can help reveal if occasional lottery participation crosses the line into covetousness and greed or remains within the bounds of Christian freedom.

Can Lottery Winnings Be Used for Good?

Given the considerable lottery jackpots that are possible, an important consideration is whether it would be acceptable to use lottery winnings for righteous purposes should you win big. On one hand, the source of the money is morally questionable. On the other hand, greed itself is not necessarily inherent in the money, so it could potentially be stewarded for God’s glory:

  • While major lottery winnings may not align fully with scriptural principles, the money itself is not inherently evil.
  • Prayerfully considering how to steward unexpected wealth for kingdom purposes is a worthy aim.
  • Significant lottery riches could be prudently invested to fund ministry works, provide for your family, give generously to charity, bless those in need, and further God’s mission in the world in creative ways.
  • Of course, this assumes winnings would not be squandered in ways that indulge sinful desires and greed.

With thoughtfulness and prayer, it may be possible to accept lottery fortunes with a spirit of humility and use the funds to bless others rather than self. This requires intentionally rejecting greed and prioritizing stewardship that honors God.

Is It a Sin for a Christian to Play the Lottery?

Given all the above considerations, is playing the lottery an outright sin that should be avoided by Christians? There is room for debate among believers on this. Some of the key perspectives include:

  • Yes, it is a sin – This view sees any form of gambling, including lottery participation, as fundamentally immoral. It emphasizes greed, poor stewardship, and covetousness.
  • No, it is a matter of Christian freedom – This perspective focuses on enjoying playing the lottery in moderation without greed or addiction. Modest stakes for entertainment are seen as morally neutral.
  • It depends on your heart motivation – With this view, occasionally buying a ticket is not inherently sinful, but the intentions behind it matter greatly. Playing purely out of selfish covetousness is sinful, while a spirit of fun and stewarding possible winnings righteously makes it debatable.

There are good arguments on both sides of whether responsible, moderate lottery participation is immoral for followers of Christ. Each Christian’s decision may come down to a matter of personal conscience and their own relationship with God.


In summary, a comprehensive look at principles of Christian stewardship, contentment, greed, motive, and historical views suggests:

  • The Bible discourages hasting to be rich through games of chance, valuing sustainable work and discipline instead.
  • Wanting to win the lottery in order to live a lavish, leisurely lifestyle appears incompatible with Christian values of modesty and temperance.
  • Occasionally buying a lottery ticket for entertainment and community participation may be acceptable in moderation.
  • The heart motivation behind playing is paramount – playing purely out of selfish covetousness is difficult to justify scripturally.
  • Prayerfully stewarding any significant lottery winnings for righteous purposes would be wise and responsible.
  • Historical Christian views generally condemn greed-fueled gambling but allow for small stakes amusement.
  • Whether responsible lottery participation is completely prohibited for believers or a matter of personal conscience is debated.

In the end, Scripture does not definitively settle whether buying an occasional lottery ticket is sinful. As with many areas of Christian freedom, a spirit of prayer, moderation, and clinging to biblical values of stewardship and charity is essential. Seeking God’s wisdom in applying biblical principles to this modern situation is advisable for followers of Christ.

Lottery Participation Potentially Acceptable Potentially Problematic
Motive For entertainment and community participation Out of greed and covetousness
Attitude Toward Wealth Content with modest means Desiring extravagant riches
Stewardship Small stakes from discretionary fun budget Excessive spending that wastes resources
Intention if Won Prayerfully bless others and God’s work Squander on self-indulgence
Summation Could potentially be acceptable in moderation Becomes clearly problematic when motives and actions conflict with Christian values

This table summarizes when occasional lottery participation may be acceptable versus clearly contradicting biblical principles and values for the follower of Christ seeking God’s wisdom. While a spirit of gambling primarily to get rich quick would be difficult to justify scripturally, modest lottery engagement out of entertainment without unhealthy covetousness may potentially be permissible based on Christian freedom.

Other Considerations

Beyond direct scriptural principles, some other pragmatic considerations around lottery participation include:

  • The low odds of winning diminishes responsible stewardship of funds.
  • Lotteries can be highly addictive, making moderation difficult.
  • Lottery revenue often funds beneficial public works like education.
  • Playing the lottery occasionally can be a fun recreational outlet to enjoy in community.
  • The advertising and nature of lotteries frequently appeal to human greed and covetousness.
  • Lotteries tend to have greater appeal for those in poorer communities who long for escape.

Accounting for these practical realities in addition to scriptural principles allows for a balanced perspective when evaluating occasional lottery participation.

Alternative Views

Those who take a more definitive stance against Christians playing the lottery also raise important points like:

  • Gambling can too easily become addictive, so it is safest to avoid entirely.
  • Stewarding resources in wiser ways that more directly build God’s kingdom should take precedence.
  • Trusting completely in God’s provision makes gambling for riches unnecessary.
  • Gambling frequently opens the door to coveting, greed, and discontentment with God’s blessings.

These arguments resonate with those who see no truly acceptable scenario for Christians to participate in lotteries or gambling. This position deserves thoughtful reflection as followers of Christ navigate applying biblical wisdom.

Wisdom for Christians Considering Playing the Lottery

For Christians seeking God’s wisdom on potentially buying an occasional lottery ticket, the following guidance may help:

  • Examine your heart motivation honestly before the Lord.
  • Avoid playing out of unchecked greed or discontentment.
  • Commit to investing any winnings prayerfully to bless others, not self.
  • Maintain good stewardship of all God provides rather than covetously desiring more.
  • Aim for pleasure in participating, not anxious focus on potential winnings.
  • Consider occasionally playing for entertainment together in community rather than alone.
  • Remain open to the Spirit’s conviction if gambling becomes unhealthy.

Staying centered on biblical values of stewardship, contentment, and purity of motive is key for those who play the lottery. Willingness to renounce participation if it stirs greed or becomes compulsive is also vital for living wisely.

Discerning God’s Wisdom

Navigating whether occasional lottery participation is permissible for followers of Christ requires discernment. Biblical principles seem to neither categorically condemn nor condone modest lottery engagement. Prayerfully evaluating personal conscience and circumstance in light of scriptural values of stewardship, moderation, and charity can guide the way forward. Seeking the Spirit’s wisdom and listening to trusted believers for counsel are also wise steps. With wisdom and discretion, it may be possible to participate moderately without violating Christian convictions.

Above all, avoiding lottery participation out of unchecked greed or discontentment, and being willing to generously steward any winnings for good, are essential boundaries for Christians seeking God’s heart. Though the lottery’s appeal is understandable, glorifying Christ through our motives, actions, and stewardship remains the imperative calling for believers.