Christian leader John Piper has called on believers to look for satisfaction in Jesus, rather than pursuing cravings to get rich – as thousands flock to buy lottery tickets.
His comments came ahead of the Powerball lottery in the USA reaching a $1.6bn jackpot, and the National Lottery in the UK unveiling the winners of £33m prize money.
Writing on the Desiring God website, he noted some key reasons not to “gamble with your money in this way” – drawing from the Bible and other sources.
Piper, who served as Senior Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist church for over 30 years, quoted 1 Timothy chapter 6 which warns that people who want to get rich fall into “temptation and a trap”.
He noted that gambling is a form of embezzlement: “Managers don’t gamble with their Master’s money. All you have belongs to God. All of it.”
Piper also pointed out that the chances of winning the lottery are incredibly small. In the UK the chances of winning the National Lottery are one in 45 million, according to a BBC news article. In the US it is around one in 292 million.
Piper quotes from the International Business Times which states that the lottery is “just another form of gambling” where the players “will all eventually lose”.
The Christian leader concludes: “Pray that Christ’s people will be so satisfied in him that they will be freed from the greed that makes us crave to get rich.”
In an article referring to US “Powerball madness”, the Guardian reported that shops have seen a surge in ticket buying because of the record jackpot.
In Georgia, a petrol station owner says he sold 15,000 tickets last Friday and Saturday, instead of his usual 600 tickets.
The Telegraph quotes one woman who was queuing for tickets, Lisa Colelli, saying that because of the amount of money to be won “you have to put everything on the line”.
The National Lottery in the UK saw its jackpot reach nearly £60m on Saturday after a succession of ‘rollovers’. Operating company Camelot reported that it sold around 200 tickets a second for the draw in the hour before ticket sales ended.
A newspaper commentator and former Olympian has described the National Lottery as part of “society’s modern cancers”.
Matthew Syed said its effect on British culture was “corrosive”, and warned that many people who take part can “ill afford” to do so.
Criticising its “semblance of virtue” achieved through its support for sport and the arts, Syed commented: “If the State wants to raise money for good causes, it should do so via taxation, not by promoting gambling”.