Perhaps some of you have heard of the story of the Florida man that won the lottery. It seems that Robert Powell won 6 million in the Florida lottery and wanted to contribute some cash to his church. I’m not sure how the church found out about Mr. Powell’s intentions, but when the pastor did, the church refused to accept the $600,000 donation. The pastor offered no explanation as to why the church would not receive Mr. Powell’s donation citing the confidentiality of member giving. Wow.
I want to be very clear on this. I am against playing the lottery. Although you won’t find any verses in the Bible that say, “Don’t play the lottery,” the Bible teaches that Christians are to have a strong work ethic and should avoid get rich quick type schemes. We know the verses and even like to quote them using our spiritual voices; Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” And of course the ever popular 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.” There are many others, but the kicker is found in the second part of 1 Timothy 6:10: “and some by longing for it [money] have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Paul provides biblical guidance why we shouldn’t long for money. He knows the dangers. That’s the fallacy of the lottery that lottery officials don’t want you to know. When you yearn or long for riches, you’ll end of finding yourself with grief instead. The answer is not more money.
You don’t have to believe me, you can do your own research. Many lottery winners are worse off than they were before they won the lottery. How can that be you might ask? Why do poor people stay poor while the rich keep getting richer? The following statement may sound harsh, but it is true. Poor people continue to do what they did to get poor and rich people continue to do what made them rich. You don’t see many rich people playing the lottery. There’s a reason for that.
All that being said, what would I do if someone came and wanted to offer a donation that resulted from something questionable? First, I don’t interview people and ask them how they made their money. Second, you have to realize that money is amoral. It is not good or evil. Are we supposed to evaluate how every dollar that is given to the church was earned? Are we supposed to refuse the dollars that are earned if the giver works at a brewery? Or a distillery? Or a tobacco farm? Or what about the Christian that works as a server in a restaurant and is required to serve alcohol? It’s an awful slippery slope to climb when you look at it like that. Of course there are professions I’m sure the Lord would just as soon see eliminated from the world, but let’s face it, we still live in a world where sin reigns and as long as we’re here, we’re at war with an enemy that does not rest.
Would I, as a pastor, accept a donation from someone who won the lottery? Well yes I would. I heard someone once say something like, “The devil’s used that money long enough, it’s time for the Lord to use it.”
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