The purpose of this article is not to affirm gambling, nor to showcase its potential harm. This is also not to chide anyone for spending a couple of bucks on a lotto ticket. I leave that between a person and his or her God. But I do want to explore the subject of wealth - especially wealth which is instantaneous, and the effects it can have on a person — or a family.
Having said that, let me pose this question; If you win the billion dollar lottery what will you do with all that money?
Some say, “I’d invest all of it and live lavishly off the interest.”
“I’d give a huge donation to all my favorite charities.”
“I’d buy new houses for all my kids.”
“I’d purchase about 100 of my favorite classic cars and a heated and air-conditioned building to house them.”
“I’d take all my extended family on a world cruise.”
“I’d buy a private island in the Caribbean and build a mansion on it, a runway for my private jet, and a stall to park my yacht.”
“I would never have another worry again - as long as I lived.”
The sad truth is, I have read of people who came into instant wealth — people who never had anything of earthly value before — and not only did they run through the fortune in a short time, they ended up in financial ruin.
Before you haul that fortune home and decide on what to do with it, ask yourself, “What will it do to my children if I lavish much of the fortune on them? All those lessons and illustrations I taught them about responsibility and work ethic just may be all be for naught.
In Luke 12 we read of a prosperous, incredibly rich man. He was so prosperous, he had no more room in his barns to store his grain. So he decided to tear down those barns and build barns much larger, to contain all his goods.
Being rich isn’t the problem, but wrongly regarding that wealth is the problem. Note the declaration of the rich man in the next verse; “And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” Luke 12:19 (NIV)
That’s what one often does when he (or she) has it all — that is, to be in love with it, hoard it, and to trust in it. One who trusts in their wealth never feels a need for faith — and, also, wealth will probably not inspire one to focus on the things in the realm of God and Heaven. Jesus worded it this way in reference to the rich fool in Luke 12: “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (NIV)
Is scripture advocating poverty as a sign of spiritual strength? No — Scripture is not against wealth. In fact, we serve a mighty God who is replete with wealth, and Who knows perfectly, how to handle it. But scripture teaches us that we are only fulfilled in life as we glorify God. It is possible for a wealthy man to glorify God, through his wealth.
It was noted of the great inventor of earthmoving machinery, R.G. LeTourneau, that he gave away 90 percent of his fortune to church and charitable causes, and lived lavishly on the remaining 10 percent. Here was an example of a rich man who was “rich toward God.”
The Bible also says that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24 (NLT)
Scripture did not say it was impossible for a rich man to come to Christ — but to point out that it is the tendency of a wealthy man is to trust in his own wealth.
So are you trusting in the true and living God to sustain you, or are you trusting in your wealth? Think about that when your lotto number is called, and you desperately try to determine what you are going to do with that billion dollar check.
Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.