The Empty Promise of Monetary Gain
By Gary K Fair
This is a true story. I am in line at a convenience store. The customer in front of me hands the clerk a lottery scratch-off, says, "Put the $5 on the pump #3." The clerk says, “It’s only a $4 winner. The customer says, "Ok, put $4 on the pump” (at the time gas is $3.85/gal.); then, he says “Oh, wait. Here, I've got another ticket." That ticket is a $5 winner. The clerk asks, “What do you want to do now?” The customer replies: "Give me $4 in gas and another lottery ticket for $5."
I perceive this as proof that the lure of something for nothing is stronger than the ability to make wise choices. It is sad that this type of situation perpetuates itself generation after generation as a misguided road to survival.
The Book of Proverbs, sometimes called The Book of Wisdom, is filled with teaching concerning making wise choices and the consequences of making unwise and foolish choices.
Proverbs 10 provides abundant teaching on the subject of choices. Look at just a couple – verse 2 and verse 4:
Verse 2 – Ill-gotten gains do not profit.
Verse 4 – Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
Hands which seek an easy return eventually lead to poverty. Those who are diligent, by being honest workers, will succeed at work. This Proverb compares and contrasts someone who is a lazy, deceitful, worker and one who is diligent and honest. The verse tells us what happens to both types.
The Bible teaches that work is an honorable endeavor. We see this teaching from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:28 - “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”
And the wisdom of Ecclesiastes always shines through in this matter. Look at 5:12 - “Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.”
My purpose in this writing is not to rant against playing the lottery (although in my mind it is a foolish use of money), but to point out that God has given us opportunity to work to provide for our needs and the needs of our family. When we use those opportunities He blesses them and thus provides for our needs without our searching for an easy way to survive.
Finally, Paul sums the matter up as he instructs Timothy, his son in the faith in 2 Timothy 2:15 - “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”