Something has been on my mind and heart for several weeks now and I don’t know why.  NJ has replaced Las Vegas as the largest sports betting state.  While it is good to finally be number one in something, I am not sure this is something to brag about.  I read on the internet, so it must be true, that there is an estimated ten million people, in the United States, who are addicted to some form of gambling.  Like all addictive things, there are also millions who participate but are not addicted.  Most people do not lose their houses or families but there are some who do.  Even if you are not addicted, it is possible to be struggling and no one would know.  I would hate for one of my brothers in Christ to be struggling and not think he can come to me for help.  

The Scriptures do not explicitly forbid gambling and so we must individually determine what is most glorifying to God.  Here are some beginning thoughts to help you decide what is most glorifying in your life.

“All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.  All things are lawful, but not all things build up.”  I Cor 10:23
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything.”  I Cor 6:12

One of the things that I find helpful here is that Paul is either quoting himself or someone else when he keeps saying, “All things are lawful for me”.  That argument, that under grace all things are lawful, is often used by those who want to justify something to their own consciences.  In their heart they know something is not right, but they convince themselves that since God did not forbid it, I am OK.  But, if we have to convince ourselves that what we are doing is OK, maybe we should listen to our consciences.  Are they weak or are they being led by the Spirit?  James 4:17 may help, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin”.  That wrestling that you are doing in your soul is probably the Lord trying to keep you from what is harming you.  You have lost control.

As with all that we do, we need to evaluate if that activity.  Here are four question to help evaluate: 1) Is it beneficial for our walk with Christ?2) Will it master me? 3) Does it hurt others? 4) Is it most glorifying to God?  These questions, if answered honestly, will keep us doing the right things.

I believe that it is possible to answer these questions honestly and still enjoy placing a bet or two.  I have to answer that way because I love to fish.  I have had to evaluate this activity in light of those four questions.  I have decided that fishing is OK for me to participate in.  God has given us things to enjoy.  I am not hurting my family.  Fishing has not mastered me.  I often find that fishing slows me down and allows me to hear from God.  I do not enjoy placing bets.  For me, they would lead to stress and greed.  I do not believe I could control the losing that comes with gaming.  I would warn my brothers and sisters who do enjoy those careful.  If you find that you are “caught”, do not get swallowed by your pride.  Get help.  Admit that you have been mastered and seek the freedom that Christ brings.  If you are hurting those you love, be honest and love them enough to stop.  I honestly would expect you to give me the same warning about any activity that I am involved in.  It is possible to blow tons of money on fishing equipment, trips, and accessories.  It is possible to spend too much time away from your responsibilities and hide on a lake.  I would pray that my brothers in Christ would reign me in, if needed.  

Not sure why this has been on my heart.  But if you need help, please give me a call.  The Eagles are doing well but they are not a sure thing.  Now, betting against the Browns...easy money.

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