Don’t fall victim to ‘Get-Rich-Quick Schemes’.
Back when I was in college, I used to work late nights and weekends at a convenience store. You know the type, a small retail business that stocks a range of everyday items such as groceries, snack foods, coffee, soft drinks, tobacco products, newspapers, and magazines. I’d start at 10 pm and would usually be ending my shifts around 7am. Like most c-stores, we also sold lottery tickets, both the ‘instant win’ scratch-off tickets and the computerized state and national mega-million number games. Time and again, I would see the same people on their way to and from their places of employment. These regular customers would stop by daily to grab a cup of coffee, a pack of cigs, and usually lottery tickets. This was an everyday occurrence. Often, they would scratch off the instant lottery tickets at side of the counter while sipping their coffee, and if they won a free ticket, they would redeem it for another chance to win. I can’t tell you how many of the same people day in and day out spend upwards of $5.00 a day on lottery tickets. It was worse when the mega-million jackpots started growing and lotto-fever hit these would-be millionaires. I never once in all the years I worked there, sold someone a million-dollar winning ticket.
The one dollar trap.
Part of the allure of lottery tickets is how inexpensive they are. For only a buck you could be a winner! After all, what could you possibly do with that measly dollar? Because of this, it’s very easy to get caught up in the lottery trap. My mother, and all of my aunts spent tens of thousands of dollars over their lifetimes chasing the elusive ‘big win’. Not only did they play the lottery, they also played bingo, went to casinos, and gambled. My late grandmother was a book-maker, taking in illegal spots bets. One of my cousins lost $600 at a casino in a single evening last month. My last surviving aunt, who lives in near poverty, frequently wastes her precious few dollars on lottery tickets, and betting on horse races. Not a single member of my family ever became wealthy by gambling, and all died penniless.
But the Apostles cast lots in the Bible, so gambling is ok, right?
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD,” (Prov. 16:33)
In the Bible, the casting of lots is mentioned several times.
- The eleven apostles cast lots to determine who would replace Judas (Acts 1:26).
- The Roman soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ garments (Matthew 27:35).
- God instructed the Israelites to cast lots on several times in the book of Numbers (Numbers 26:55; 33:54; 34:13; 36:2)
- The practice of casting lots occurs most often in connection with the division of the land under Joshua (Joshua chapters 14-21)
- The sailors on Jonah’s ship (Jonah 1:7) also cast lots to determine who had brought God’s wrath upon their ship.
This is NOT the same as gambling. The casting of lots was the ancient equivalent of flipping a coin to make an arbitrary decision. Another thing you may notice in all of the above references, is that there was no initial up-front investment by the participants to be included. When you gamble, you have to wager a personal stake of some sort which becomes forfeit if the outcome is not in your favor. I’ve also heard people try to justify gambling by saying that bingo is played in Catholic churches, so it’s okay. Actually there have been several times over the past seventy years when bingo was banned in churches, and even today it’s rare to see bingo played outside of a bingo hall or at a private club. It’s not illegal, but that doesn’t make it ‘good’. Anything which becomes an addiction is bad, and as God has given us free will, we have to decide for ourselves through studying his Word if we are becoming addicted to a particular bad habit.
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 1 Corinthians 6:12 King James Version (KJV)
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 6:10 King James Version (KJV)
The easy way
Buying a lottery ticket is not against the law. On very rare occasions even I have been caught up in ‘lotto fever’ when the mega-million jackpot hits record highs, and I feel compelled to contribute to the office lotto pool because I don’t want to be the one guy that got left behind should my co-workers win and split the jackpot. It’s not wrong to want to have a better life. But if you feel that there only way to improve your lot in life is by gambling, then there is something seriously wrong with your way of thinking. Let’s go back to the guys I mentioned who brought daily lottery tickets on their way to work back when I worked at the c-store. Let’s say they spent $5 a day, five days a week on lottery tickets on average. I sold some of these guys tickets for years, and they never hit any big jackpot. So let’s assume that instead of wasting $25 a week on lottery tickets, they just put that money in a jar every week for a year. At the end of the year they would have $1300.00. Now let’s assume they did this every year for twenty five years, never toughing the money, just putting it in the jar, $25 a week, every week for twenty five years. They would have stashed away $32,500! Now suppose instead of just hiding the money away in a jar, they had placed in a brokerage account and invested it in a index fund tracking the S&P 500, (assuming about a 12% interest rate APR ) that investment would have grown to over $100,000!
The easy way to became rich is not by gambling. The easy way to achieve wealth is to do it slowly over time, cutting all unnecessary expenses, and by making wise investments. As always, I wish you happiness and success!