Christians should strive to avoid what the Bible calls “filthy lucre” (1 Timothy 3:3, 1 Peter 5:2). Filthy lucre, as the King James calls it (or shameful gain as the ESV has it) amounts to financial increase, money or payment that has come through less-than-godly means. The nationwide Powerball lottery could reach as high as 1.3 billion today, and Christians are standing in line along with our pagan neighbors for a chance at the biggest lottery payout in American history.
Should Christians take part in this gambling exercise? Where is the Thou Shalt Not when it comes to purchasing a Powerball ticket?
Well, there are a few Biblical principles at play when it comes to taking part in what statisticians call the “stupid tax.”
- One could argue that it’s the love of money, which we are to avoid (1 Timothy 6:10, Hebrews 13:5) that would prompt someone to make what is for almost everyone a bad financial decision in purchasing that ticket.
- We see in wisdom literature that wise people don’t seek to get rich quick (Proverbs 13:11).
- We should really be content with what we have, and not be associated with something so clearly designed to separate fools from their money (Hebrews 13:5).
- Generally speaking, gambling is counterintuitive to the Scriptural emphasis on stewardship. You wouldn’t gamble your employer’s money. If you were a county or city treasurer you wouldn’t gamble the people’s money. Why then would you gamble God’s money?
Phil Johnson once wrote an excellent article at Grace to You on this topic, and essentially made that point that gambling is essentially gambling on gambling not being a sin. Why risk it?
But alas, if someone wants to “chapter and verse!!!” it on gambling, we’ll come up short of a clear and didactic text forbidding the practice, and to be equally as fair, the Bible isn’t designed to cover every Thou Shalt Not possible. Some common sense and application of Biblical wisdom is sometimes in order.
So then, that Ed Stetzer would tweet this isn’t inane for the reasons you might at first think.
I mean, pastors probably shouldn’t be encouraging their folks to gamble (even with the obligatory “I’m opposed to the lottery, but…”) to receive the tithe money, on account of elders not going after filthy lucre and everything. But laced with whimsy and just enough nuance for plausible deniability and a cute emoticon at the end, surely this isn’t a scandal.
But here’s what is a scandal.
Can I point out the obvious here?
With the nebulous sinfulness of gambling being what it is, in which we can most easily prove playing the lottery is at the very least unwise, the fact is Lifeway money is infinitely more dirty than that of the Powerball.
We can find very explicit verses in regards to God’s condemnation of false teaching (Ephesians 4:14, 1 Timothy 1:18-20, Titus 1:10-11, Hebrews 13:9, 2 Peter 2:1). We can find God’s very explicit condemnation of those who sell religious goods and services that are contrary to the revealed will of God (Matthew 12, Mark 11, John 2).
From Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer to the likes of Barnabas Piper, the gang at Lifeway are America’s premier sellers of heretical supplies that are poisoning churches.
They sell Jonathan Cahn’s judaizing prophecies, TD Jakes’ modalistic prosperity gospel, John Haggee’s astrological omen interpretation, Sarah Young’s direct and supposedly divine revelation, and Beth Moore’s crazy-eyed, narcissistic, eisegetical, TBN-funded scripture twisting. They sell Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer by special order, and they sell “gay christian” propaganda by special order (source link).
Lifeway Christian Resources, in a name soaked in extreme irony, sell
pigeons outside the temple everything from Roman Catholic Holy Water to devotional books claiming to be written by the Holy Spirit. When they were warned nearly a year before Alex Malarkey’s open letter that they were selling a fake Heaven Tourism book, Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer ignored the young man’s warning and kept selling a book they knew was false. Ed Stetzer recently took Lifeway data and gave it to radical Islamic extremists and Sharia Law advocates to help them “reach evangelicals” because they paid him.
Lifeway money is more dirty than lottery money. It’s vile. And if put into the offering plate the elders should return it, because contrary to Stetzer’s lust for filthy lucre, God most certainly does not need the devil’s money.