There is an epidemic of gambling the world over. Cash-strapped governments are so desperate that they are only too eager to promote and encourage gambling in their nations and towns. Gambling on the Internet is also big business. Yet I know many people who would never step foot in a casino or go online to gamble who engage in a form of gambling on a regular basis. I call it the spiritual lottery.
I watched the other day as someone on television promised the blessing of God if the people watching would simply send in a certain amount of money. I have seen this tactic before as articulate and credible sources promise the blessing of wisdom, business success or unlimited returns for a gift to this or that ministry. It occurred to me that these people were running something akin to a spiritual lottery. Let me explain.
When someone goes to a casino, they go in hopes of spending a little money and somehow making a lot of money in return. They may play certain card games or feed coins all night into slot machines, and they always hope that the next game or spin will bring them luck, that the next play will make them rich and bring them their dreams.
When someone promises that your next gift will be the one that will "put you over the top," isn't it the same principle? Isn't the giver hoping for the same thing that the casino player is looking for? Aren't they both looking for a shortcut to prosperity?
I know I should give and be generous. I know God will bless me when I do. Yet to expect my marriage to be blessed for a $1,000 gift or to receive the promise of wisdom for a $951 gift (since there are 951 verses in Proverbs) is absurd. So why do these peddlers promise such returns? They promise because it works; people fall for it all the time. Why? They are playing a spiritual lottery of sorts, and looking for a shortcut to wealth.
I call these people peddlers because, in most cases, that's what they are. They are peddling God's word, cloaking it in promises of untold returns to those who will invest. What is a peddler? One dictionary defines a peddler as "one who deals in or promotes something intangible (as a personal asset or an idea)." There were peddlers in Paul's day as well, for he wrote: "For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God" (2 Corinthians 2:17 emphasis added).
There are no shortcuts to prosperity. It comes through hard work, wise investments and the grace of God. Prosperity seldom if ever comes solely through giving, although giving is a hallmark of many prosperous people. Proverbs 3:9-10 states: "Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. " It does not state that you give to get wealth; it directs you to give out of your wealth and it will be preserved. You don't give to manipulate God into blessing you. You give to honor God for how He has already blessed you. You don't give "betting" that your $15 will bring great returns.
So the next time someone comes along and promises a certain blessing if you give, don't fall for it. You can still give if you so choose, but don't do so to play the lottery. Give because you want to give. If God blesses you beyond your wildest dreams, that's great. If He doesn't, that's great, too. It's time we stopped supporting the spiritual lottery wherever it is run, and returned to giving for the pure joy of sharing God's blessings with others.
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