Should Christians invest in money-doubling ventures?
Gambling, which is a chance game comes in various designs and no matter the name it is called whether lottery, pools betting or the popular MMM (Mavrodi Mondial Moneybox), each one has its own risk. But with the economic recession in the country, coupled with high unemployment rate, and the financial pressure affecting many homes including Christians, it is very easy for people to become vulnerable and take a gamble. The Bible warns Christians desiring to be rich to be careful because of the dangers that are inherent in pursuit of money at all costs. The questions are: can Christians get involved in any form of gamble; and if they pay their tithes and offerings from such proceeds will the church accept them? CHRIS IREKAMBA and ISAAC TAIWO report.
• ‘Someone Might Unwittingly Equate Casting Of Lots With Gambling; But They Are Not Akin, Irrespective Of The Fact That They Both Present Outcomes Of Uncertainty To The Parties Concerned’
‘Offerings/Tithes Generated From Wrong Processes Is Abomination To God’
(Dr. Patrick Oyinkari, Pastor/Overseer, Seventh Day Church of God/Chairman, Association of Sabbath Keepers)
The question of gambling is one, which lends to a wide variety of opinions and must be treated with a high sense of responsibility. Someone might unwittingly equate casting of lots with gambling; but they are not akin, irrespective of the fact that they both present outcomes of uncertainty to the parties concerned. While the former seeks to provide direction or a guess among relatively known options, the latter is deep rooted in the inordinate desire to get rich quickly. This is where the danger lies.
The promoters of the chance games such as lotteries or schemes target the vulnerable in society who, not having a grounded faith in the Supreme Owner of the whole earth and all things in it, seek to terminate their misery of lack of means. This longing mortifies good reasoning. On the long run they lose even the little they have and get worse in state than they were before their misadventure.
The Christian is encouraged to earn a living through legitimate, tangible work experience and if he would not work, let him not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:7-10). Gambling is not work as envisaged here. Instead it is a destroyer of the dignity of labour. It spurns hard, honest work.
When the Christian gets on to work and reaps the proceeds thereof, he is to grow in that as all things in nature grow. There is nothing designed to be stable that just bloats like a balloon. Look at nature: seeds take time to become trees; trees take time to fruit; fruits take time to mature and ripen; babies take time to be born, and when born take time to become adults. So should wealth (Proverbs 13:11b). Anything outside this rests on greed (covetousness and avarice), which breeds all sorts of evil.
Hastening to be rich exposes one as having an evil eye (Proverbs 28:22), which leads to the making of wealth by vanity because he that loves silver (money) shall not be satisfied with it (Ecclesiastes 5:10); he shall fall into traps and many foolish lusts, which destroy (1 Timothy 6:9).
The chief of all evils is the love of money (NOT money per se, but the love of money), which is the root of all evils (1 Timothy 6:10). When this love becomes inordinate, it tends to bypass and sideline God-given talents and abilities to be productive, which talents and abilities God has sought to protect by instructing man not to be covetous (Exodus 20:17; Romans 7:7) but to be contented (Hebrews 13:5).
Going against this commandment by coveting is the foundation for gambling. Seeing that such overnight illicit wealth is discouraged and no one can bring a clean/good thing out of an unclean/bad one (Job 14:4) should such ill-gotten riches be tithed upon or given as offering to God? Of course, the answer is obvious. God is not eager to receive gifts from men that He will not bother whether they are proceeding from His ordained sources. No! You cannot bribe or mock God. Working contrary to His principles and turning around to say it is for Him is the height of insolence and irreverence to Him who is Almighty.
Offerings and tithes generated from theft, cheating and swindling of others, as well as wrong processes will be abomination to God just as the sacrifice of a sinner (Proverbs 15:8; Deuteronomy 17:4).
It will not matter whether the ill-product is legalised by man’s laws or sponsored by the government or state. The multitude of persons involved will not change a bad concept to make it good. Indeed, the Christian is admonished not to go with a multitude to do evil (Exodus 23:2a)
It is a wonder how suddenly what society once abhorred turns out in these times to be the acceptable norm. What was abnormal a few years back (like homosexuality) now gets to be regarded as an alternative way of life. Good moral values that sustain societies are now weakened to the detriment of the generality of society. History then tends to repeat itself and the lessons from the past are considered only by the few who serve as the bridge between the decaying society and the revival or renaissance thereof.
‘To Receive Tithes From Lottery Or Other Schemes Is To Encourage Fraud’
(Dr. Sunday Adelaja, Senior Pastor, Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God, Kiev, Ukraine)
Thanks to the fact that I live in Ukraine, which is a part of the former Soviet Union. A place where the MMM has hugely operated over the past 30 years. I can authoritatively state that MMM is a fraudulent financial scheme, it is one of the biggest fraud ever practiced in the history of humanity.
The founder of this scheme Sergey Mavrodi has being imprisoned for this crime. He did not deny or still does not deny that he is operating this financial fraud. If you look at his interviews on YouTube, and what he said in Russian language, ‘I know that I am doing fraud, but people still come to me anyway. I am building a business on people’s greed.’
The way it works is that they use some of the money people bring to pay people percentages and it continues like that for as long as people bring money in. Most times it lasts for two-three years and collapses. When it does, all the people that brought money last lose their money. So, no matter how many people believe in this scheme in Nigeria, it will still fail sooner or later.
MMM has been prohibited by all the government of the former Soviet Union, including Russian and Ukraine. Sergey himself is on the run. After he has being banned from all these European countries, he now moves to Africa, specifically Nigeria where he knows people are gullible.
As concerning all the other organisations such as lottery, poolbetting, I do not know much about them and as such I cannot say if they are fraudulent or not.
The church should not receive tithes from these kinds of businesses, especially MMM, that will be encouraging fraud in our nation.
‘Wealth Got Through Vanity Will Vanish As They Come’
(Benedict T. Hart, Publicity Secretary, God’s Kingdom Society, GKS)
Gambling is the practice of playing games of chance or betting in the hope of winning money. A game of chance, is usually played for money and the outcome depends on chance. Bible understanding shows that it is detestable practice for people of God to be engaged in playing games of chance for money. Such things as bagatelle, “lucky-dip,” raffle, pools betting and so on, are done in order to enable people get quick money, which they did not work for. Such monies vanish as they come. Solomon the prophet says, “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.” – Proverbs 13:11. There are many poor people who continue to plough the money they should have used for their upkeep for various gambling schemes. This habit has ruined many families. The man keeps hoping he will win one day; and keeps raising the stakes, putting more money, hoping to hit one day; but he never does. Does that not amount to defrauding people? “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter,” said St. Paul, “because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified,” 1 Thessalonians 4:6. No faithful, true worshipper of God takes part in gambling because it smacks of covetousness, greed, haste to become rich overnight, which are unscriptural. The Bible condemns the get-rich-quick syndrome. “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent. He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.” – Proverbs 28:20, 22. The devil flaunted the riches of the world before Christ to get him to compromise but he turned everything down, pointing out that the duty of man is to love God above material things (Matthew 4:8-10).
We should be contented with what we have and not desire to get rich quick through gambling or any other means. In 1 Timothy 6:6-12 St. Paul warns, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows…” – 1 Timothy 6:6-12.
It is unfair for the poor to be made to be building pies in the sky, losing their little resources to enrich others, when they should be doing honest labour for God to bless them. St. Paul warns that, “if any would not work, neither should he eat,” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
In GKS, the church laid down the instruction that: “No member should engage in any form of electoral malpractice, examination malpractice and in gambling of any kind like bagatelle, lucky dip, card and draught playing, horse race, raffle draw, lottery, football pools, sweepstake, or look for any ungodly, quick or uncertain riches. – Jeremiah 17:11; 10:2, 22; 20:21; 1 Timothy 6:6-12, 17-19; Romans 12:18; 1 John 2:15-17; etc.
The Church added, “The craze for quick riches in the world today is leading many people to misery and perdition in the end. Members are admonished to shun corrupt people who oppose the Christian faith, but glorify materialism, “supposing that godliness is gain.” Godly people know that true riches come from God; therefore, anything that makes for ungodly and quick riches should be shunned and detested – 1 Chronicles 29:12; 1 Timothy 6:5, 6; Psalms 37:16.”
The Church should not accept tithes and offerings known to be from such dubious sources. Our Lord Jesus Christ enjoins us that if we want to make offering in a place of worship and remember that we have issues that ought to be put right with God, we should go and settle that likely impediment to the acceptance of our service before coming to give that offering (Matthew 5:23, 24).
‘A Game Of Luck Does Not Have To Be Sinful’
(Archbishop Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos)
Anything that involves a reward or money that one is not actually entitled to would not be acceptable to God.
The principle is that everyone should earn his or her living honestly and through hard work. Anything short of this is not acceptable in the sight of God.
If, however, anyone is trying his luck, which necessarily is not through fraudulent means, but a matter of chance, is another thing entirely.
It is a matter of principle and the principle is that money should be earned by honest and just method.
For example, if anyone plays lottery, I believe all he is trying to do is to try his or luck and he has not committed fraud. If by chance he wins such a jackpot, tithe or offering through such means as far as I am concerned it’s not sinful.
‘Cheap Money Without Labour Is Covetousness’
(Pastor Johnson Odesola, Assistant General Overseer on Admin./Personnel/Pastor in charge of Region 1, The Redeemed Christian Church of God)
According to the Bible, we need to labour before we earn money. Looking for cheap money is not biblical. As Christians, we are to discipline ourselves and desist from engaging in gambling such as lottery, mmm, and the like because getting ourselves involved tantamount to covetousness.
Many graduates who are out from the universities these days want quick money, not wanting to know that life is a process. They have forgotten that one moves from kindergarten to youth, and then becomes an adult. Anyone clamouring for quick money, definitely is looking for a short-cut. There is nothing like short-cut in the Bible and I do not expect anyone who is a Christian to get involved in anything that suggests that.
Christians in my own perception should not participate in gambling of any sort, including pools betting. They all encourage laziness and the attitude of not wanting to wait for God’s time.
Paying tithes and offering from such money would not receive God’s blessings. As long as God is not pleased with the income through lottery, gambling and all that, He would not equally accept tithes and offering from such money and anyone who pays such is only paying for paying sake, as they do not receive God’s recognition.
‘God Does Not Compromise His Standard’
(Apostle Alex Bamgbola, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Lagos State)
As long as mmm, lottery and all that are not good for Christians, tithe and offering from such money are not acceptable to God. If anyone pays that kind of money such person is just paying for paying sake because such tithe and offerings are not known to God. God would not compromise His standard.
However, it is important that Church leaders teach their members to know that indulging in making such money not laboured for is condemned by God. It is ungodly and they should desist from such practice. Teaching is very important and the leadership in the Church should know that it is their responsibility to let their members know what God wants and what He does not want.
The teaching ministry acquaints members of what is right and acceptable to God, as well as, what is very crucial. So, Church leaders should not hold this with hand of levity. They should teach their members that making heaven is very important and therefore, should not just be interested in the money of their members at the expense of their souls.
‘We Are Not To Gamble Or Participate In Lottery’
(Stephen Tunde Victor Adegbite, Bishop of Ikeja Diocese, Methodist Church Nigeria)
Gambling is not biblical, as we are not expected to gamble or participate in lottery as Christians. If anyone is doing that, he/she is doing it at his/her own detriment. It is not something we should encourage in the Church. If anyone is gambling, he is getting the money he did not work for and God says that if we do not work, we should not eat. Work without pay is meaningless and pay without work is also meaningless. From my teaching, education, belief and doctrine, it is unbiblical to engage in gambling and this is the basic truth, according to the Scriptures.
‘I Would Not Advise Anyone To Gamble’
(Archbishop Magnus Atilade, former Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Southwest /founder, Christian Welfare Initiative (CWI)
We have seen when something like lottery (casting lots) was used in the Bible to decide some issues. People described it as a game or activity in probability. Some people have taken part in it and have used the proceeds for good things. However, some have taken part in it and came out regretting that they had done so. It is something that people do with expectation of either benefit or failure. We are not judging that if anyone gambles, he will not go to heaven or if anyone stays clear of gambling, he would make heaven. They are just practices in this world that people indulging in them just have to know what they are doing. There are no hard and fast rules about them.
I would not advise anyone to gamble. If anyone chooses to gamble, he should first of all consider the risk involved before he goes into it. He should prepare his mind on what to do if he gains or looses.