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What does God say about the lottery?

The lottery is a popular form of gambling where numbers are drawn at random and players match their selected numbers in hopes of winning a jackpot prize. With lottery jackpots sometimes reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s no surprise that many people are tempted to play. However, what guidance does the Bible provide when it comes to participating in lotteries? Here’s an in-depth look at what God says about the lottery according to Scripture.

The Bible warns against get-rich-quick schemes

Lotteries are essentially a get-rich-quick scheme – players are enticed by the possibilities of instantly becoming wealthy by simply picking the right numbers. However, the Bible warns against the allure of quick and easy riches obtained by chance or luck rather than honest labor:

“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.” (Proverbs 12:11)

“A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 28:20)

Rather than chasing fantasies of instant wealth, the Bible exhorts hard, diligent work and wise financial stewardship as the paths to prosperity and security:

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5)

Lotteries often prey upon the financially desperate such as the poor, elderly, and vulnerable. The Bible warns against profiting from or taking advantage of those in need:

“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.” (Proverbs 14:31)

Gambling violates principles of work and stewardship

Gambling through lotteries produces nothing of value – no goods are created, no services rendered. According to the Bible, gain obtained without labor and productive work is questionable:

“Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.” (Ecclesiastes 5:12)

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

The Bible also presents clear principles regarding financial stewardship. All that we have – time, talents, wealth – are given by God and should be managed wisely for His purposes. Squandering money recklessly on games of chance violates the call to be faithful stewards of God’s resources:

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17)

Lotteries can become an unhealthy addiction

For some individuals, purchasing lottery tickets can morph into an unhealthy addiction. The allure of “easy money” can become intoxicating as players chase the next big jackpot. This obsession with gambling violates Scriptural admonitions regarding self-control and sound judgment:

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18)

“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” (Proverbs 27:12)

The Bible praises virtues like contentment, satisfaction, and self-restraint – qualities that are compromised by lottery ticket addiction:

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5)

“Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

Lottery spending drains family budgets

For many, playing the lottery starts out as harmless fun or entertainment. But what begins as small, occasional purchases can spiral out of control, draining family budgets needed for legitimate expenses like housing, food, and education. The Bible clearly identifies the family as God’s building block for society and calls for sacrificial care for those under our roofs:

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)

Habitual lottery ticket purchases demonstrate a lack of responsible stewardship that conflicts with Biblical financial principles and family values.

Time wasted chasing fantasy

Obsessive lottery play also results in a colossal waste of time, as players compulsively track numbers, watch drawings, and dream about how they’ll spend their millions. This opposes the Biblical view of time as a precious, fleeting resource to invest in pursuits that count for eternity:

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Rather than chasing fantasies, the Bible calls believers to live purposefully, generously, and in mindful service to God and others.

Some specific Biblical verses about gambling and the lottery

In addition to broader principles regarding work, wealth, and wisdom, the Bible contains some specific verses that address or relate to the concept of gambling through games of chance and luck:

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

The endless cycle of playing the lottery but never feeling fulfillment or contentment if characteristic of its ultimately meaningless nature.

“Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.” (Proverbs 22:16)

State-run lotteries essentially function as a regressive tax, taking a higher proportionate share of income from the poor while providing services mainly benefitting the non-poor.

“Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” (Proverbs 23:5)

Lottery winnings can disappear quickly for those unprepared to manage sudden wealth prudently.

“Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” (Proverbs 25:20)

Lottery marketing and messaging often recklessly takes advantage of human vulnerability and false hopes.

“He who increases his wealth by exorbitant interest amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.” (Proverbs 28:8)

Lottery funds end up largely benefiting government budgets, not individual players.

“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2)

Lottery tickets provide entertainment but no lasting fulfillment or sustenance.

Lotteries contradict the example of Jesus

As the Son of God, Jesus’ life embodied ideal human character. His example provides the ultimate standard for Christian conduct and ethics. On multiple occasions in the gospels, Jesus speaks out against the love of money and warns of its dangers:

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

Jesus also demonstrated responsible stewardship of finances. He directed Judas, who held the disciples’ moneybag, to give to the poor (John 13:29). And he taught the parable of the shrewd manager, commending wise and generous use of worldly wealth (Luke 16:1-15).

Jesus’ example was one of selflessness, not self-indulgence. It’s difficult to envision him condoning games of chance that appeal to human greed and often exploit the poor and vulnerable. The lottery’s get-rich focus contradicts Christ’s servant-hearted life.

Jesus accepted God’s will, not seeking earthly treasures

When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness to turn stones into bread, Jesus rebuked him, choosing to accept God’s provision rather than grasping for material riches (Matthew 4:3-4). Jesus instructs his followers to lay up treasures in heaven rather than accumulating earthly wealth:

“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)

Rather than chasing a lottery jackpot, Jesus set the example of seeking first God’s kingdom and trusting Him for provision of needs like food and clothing (Matthew 6:25-34).

Jesus accepted suffering, not seeking escape through riches

Though Jesus was God in the flesh, he willingly endured human hardship, suffering, and ultimately the agony of the cross. He did not use divine power to insulate himself from pain or acquire wealth and comfort. In contrast, the lottery represents an attempt to escape suffering and difficulty through riches.

“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

The lottery appeals to human weakness; the example of Christ demands willingness to suffer and sacrifice.

Wise counsel for Christians considering the lottery

Based on the principles and passages outlined above, here is some wise counsel for Christians considering playing the lottery:

Examine your motives

Carefully analyze what’s driving your desire to play – the big jackpot? fantasies of what you would do with the money? boredom? magical thinking? Peer thoughtfully into your heart.

Count the real costs

Take an honest accounting of what you spend annually on lottery tickets. Weigh that against real needs in your family budget, giving to your church and charities, and investments in God’s kingdom.

Consider more constructive uses of time and money

Replace lottery ticket purchases with more positive uses of resources. Volunteer in your community, take a class, read to children, donate to a cause important to you.

Pray for contentment and gratitude

Bring your deep longings and thirst for meaning to God in prayer. Ask for His peace and contentment, seeking fulfillment in Him rather than chance riches.

Practice faithful stewardship

Commit to honoring God with your time, talents, and finances. Managing His resources wisely is a matter of spiritual devotion.

Seek wholesome community

Surround yourself with believers who will encourage you to make wise choices and live generously in ways pleasing to God.

Remember the poor and vulnerable

Keep the needs of others forefront as you make financial decisions. Avoid choices that could exploit the desperate.

Trust God’s provision and plan

Rather than taking matters into your own hands via the lottery, demonstrate faith that God knows your needs and will care for you in His way and time.


While the lure of a big jackpot is powerful, Christians seek to make financial choices according to Biblical principles and wisdom, not merely self-benefit. Careful study of Scripture reveals that lotteries promote values of materialism, escapism, greed, compulsion, and fantasy contrary to the call of Christ to live purposefully and generously as faithful stewards. With prayer and accountability, believers can resist temptation and rest in the sufficiency of God’s provision.