A Temptation and a Snare

1 Timothy 6:9-11


Introduction:

More than 100 million people gamble on some level. Three hundred billion dollars a year are spent on gambling.All of the statistics that I have seen state that all lotteries are aimed at the poor and financed by the poor.  The big problem with the lottery is it appeals to the weaknesses of people and not their strengths.

Illustration:
A casino in New Mexico ran an ad that offered an interesting solution for those facing financial problems. The Isleta Casino & Resort bills itself as “Home of Albuquerque’s Loosest Slots and Hottest Table Games.”The casino put out a TV commercial showing images of dollar bills floating down to an outstretched hand while an announcer said, “So the holidays have passed, and those credit card bills just keep piling up? Well, Isleta Casino Resort comes to your rescue.”

In the weeks that it aired, the commercial received sharp criticism and eventually the casino pulled the ad. Guy Clark, executive director of the New Mexico Coalition Against Gambling, angrily denounced the spot as targeting “the uneducated, desperate and poor.” Denouncing gambling as a losing proposition that traps you into “chasing your losses,” Clark suggested that the more common results of gambling were not financial windfalls but economic devastation and suicide.

Citation:
Mary Lasse, Carol Stream, Illinois; Source: “Casino Pulls Ad Aimed at Those in Debt,” Reuters.com (3-30-04)Let me make a couple of observations here. First, God is not against wealth per se. (Deuteronomy 8:18; 1 Chronicles 29:12-14) But God is extremely interested in how you acquire your wealth and how you handle it. (1 Timothy 6:17) Second, God encourages risk-taking. Now before you wonder what I am saying let me use another word…investing.  You, of course, remember the parable in Matthew 25:14 of the man who left his money with three servants, two invested it and one did not. He didn’t risk it. He played it safe but his master condemned him. God obviously wants us to risk our time, our treasure for Him. We need to go all out for Christ. But risk is not always acceptable. When it is done out of greed God will not condone that. Paul has some good advice for us. He has given us some guidelines to follow.

I. The root of gambling, (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

A. In these verses Paul describes three interrelated attitudes that lead most people to gamble.

1. The first attitude is the desire to get rich, (1 Timothy 6:9).
a. One Sunday a man came to church looking very sad and despondent.
b. The pastor noticed him and asked,” Why are you so sad?”
c. “Well, two weeks ago my uncle died and left me $75,000 dollars.
d. Then a week ago my aunt died and left me $50,000 dollars.”
e. The pastor said, “Wait a minute. Two weeks ago your uncle died and left you $75,000. Last week your aunt died and left you $50,000?
f. Why are you so sad?”
g. The man answered, “Because nobody died this week.”
h. Paul’s statement does not mean that it is wrong for someone to want to improve his or her life.
i. His statement addresses people who place an inordinate priority on acquiring wealth.
2. The second attitude is the love of money, (1 Timothy 6:10).
a. For these people the desire to get more money controls their lives.
b. This is certainly true in the case of gambling.
c. Surveys have confirmed time after time that most people say that they gamble in order to win money.
d. Have you ever heard of anyone who played the lottery because they want to help education?
e. Of course not, people play to win money.
f. It is greed that drives gambling.
g. Satan tells us it is a harmless act but God calls it greed.
3. The third attitude is covetousness.
a. In 1 Timothy 3:1 Paul uses the same root to form the word “desire”.
b. It describes a person who commits themselves to obtaining something.
c. In 1 Timothy 6:10 it speaks of a person who has committed his or her life to getting money.
d. Paul tells us that this desire, this greed will lead one into temptation.
(1). I heard the story this week of a pastor’s son who has lost all to gambling.
(2). He moved back home and is now stealing his father’s wallet for money.
(3). Temptation acted upon brings terrible results.
(4). l Timothy 6:10 tells us if we yield to greed it will bring many sorrows.
e. Gambling is wanting for something you should work for.
f. It displaces productivity.
g. One statement Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 6:12 is really a profound one.
(1). “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.”
h. Gambling is not profitable to a child of God…it will destroy your testimony and possibly your life.

B. Gambling promises wealth with ease.

C. But in reality it takes wealth away.

II. The Results of Gambling, (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

A. Paul describes five specific results that occur when a person places an inordinate priority on wealth.

B. All of these results can be seen with frightening regularity when people engage in gambling.

1. People are snared, (1 Timothy 6:9).
a. To some gain is godliness.
b. But Paul says contentment is godliness.
c. But many are deceived by wealth and believe that money and godliness are equal.
d. To those who “desire to be rich” the hook is set.
e. They will go to any length in order to become rich.
f. They are snared into losing their integrity.
g. They are snared from their self-respect.
h. Paul cautions all of us “don’t desire money to the place you lose in the end.”
i. Gambling is a snare, it is a trap.
j. It may start in one’s mind as simple entertainment, it looks fun.
k. But many become entrapped by it.
l. Today, there are over eight million people who cannot control their gambling habit.
2. People are ruined, (1 Timothy 6:9).
a. People who are consumed with money destroy themselves.
b. I had a friend growing up whose father was so anxious about money that it eventually caused him to have a mental breakdown.
c. Greed will destroy you.
d. The evidence of the destructive results of gambling can be seen in communities where gambling is available.
e. Where there is gambling you will find growing numbers of pawn shops and Gamblers Anonymous groups.
f. Too often, such kinds of growth represent lives that have been destroyed.
3. People’s souls are injured, (1 Timothy 6:9).
a. That word “perdition” has spiritual connotations.
b. Our very souls are affected when we love money to the point of greed.
c. A person who is consumed with the desire to get rich loses something spiritual.
d. His appetite is so tied to the accumulation of the things of this world
e. that he gives little thought to spiritual things.
f. His heart is where his treasure is.
4. People wander away from their faith, (1 Timothy 6:10).
a. Losing faith…what a sad commentary.
b. You remember the story of the rich young man who couldn’t surrender Christ,
c. because he couldn’t surrender his possessions. (Mark 10:22)
d. Jesus said, “How hard for those who have riches to enter into the kingdom of God.”
e. Christian, be careful that you don’t choose money and material things over God.
5. There will be many griefs, (1 Timothy 6:10).
a. Do you see that Paul uses the plural form?
b. Not just a grief but griefs
c. The word carries the idea of pain.
d. The person destroyed through love of money experiences a grief that exceeds regret.

III. The Remedy of Gambling, (1 Timothy 6:11).

A. Paul issues two commands with two imperatives.

1. Flee
a. This word is easy to understand.
b. It means what it says…FLEE!
c. Why do we find it so hard to flee from the love of money?
d. Because we are bombarded by the media to buy, buy, buy.
e. All of us are affected and it is hard to flee.
f. Gambling will only intensify our love of money.
g. When Paul says “flee” he is saying “run for your life.”
h. Don’t think you can juggle a love for money and it won’t hurt you spiritually.
2. Pursue, (1 Timothy 6:11).
a. This word conveys pursuit as a consuming passion.
b. One who makes these attributes his or her life’s pursuit will never be in danger of the love of money.

B. Paul makes it clear you cannot love God and mammon.

C. A person must give first place to one or the other.

Conclusion:

In this age of moral degeneracy and materialistic pursuit, we should see gambling for what it is. Gambling is the result of a society that has lost its moral bearings. In the absence of real spiritual meaning, people are turning to other forms of fulfillment. God tells us that money is a poor gauge of success. The true gauge is personal spiritual growth and godliness.

Ken Cheek

Retired pastor of Northridge Baptist Church, Northport.

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