As is recorded in the earliest chapters of Genesis, we see that mankind became discontented. Adam and Eve lived in paradise and communed with Yahweh, yet wanted something more. Adam’s son, Cain, wanted what his brother Abel had. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of his relationship with their father, so they planned to dispose of Joseph. As we go through the Scriptures, chapter by chapter, book by book, the list becomes longer and longer of those who changed their own and other’s lives by becoming discontented.
Contentment is a feeling of calm satisfaction. Discontentment is feeling mildly unhappy, dissatisfied, and includes a restless desire for something else. We often think of children as good examples of being discontented. A familiar Christmas day includes paper and boxes strewn around the room, and in the middle of all of the toys, is a child that is crying because she wants “more.” In contrast, we are to mature by learning that godliness will gain us not just a little, but a lot, when we are content.
1 Timothy 6:6-11 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
A large part of the childish, old man nature behavior centers around filling the heart with temporary fixes like – money, fame, and relationships that lead to more discontent. Lasting godly contentment can only be found in God by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. Then we are truly able to be content. Many sin patterns start when we forget to be satisfied, thankful, and content.
There are many addictions that one may succumb to, but an insidious one that has an element of social acceptance, even in Christian churches and groups, is gambling. Similar to alcohol use, gambling is socially acceptable in small amounts, sort of as a little hobby or interest on the side.
The statistics from research and surveys that are from internet anti-gambling sites are alarming, even saying that compulsive gambling is a larger problem to society than alcohol and substance abuse combined. Teens and college-aged students use online sites and credit cards and are becoming the largest group of serious gamblers. Scratch-offs are easy to obtain, and an average household may spend well over a $100.00 a month on these tickets.
Generally unknown to most is that gamblers have the highest rate of suicide of any addictive group. Spouses of gamblers have a very high rate of suicide and child abuse rates are among the highest in families with compulsive gamblers. Crime rates can jump up 1,000% or more in 2 to 5 years near casinos. States, such as Nevada that have had legalized casinos for many years, have very depressing and grave statistics around the effects of gambling on their citizens and communities. Some states deliberately profit from gambling industries.
“So what if I go buy a scratch-off, go to bingo once a week, or bet on the ponies at the track? I am just having fun. Everyone does and can be social. The extra cash now and then can pay a bill or two, and I will even give some to the church!” The “So what?” is answered by the Scriptures (which do not mention the word “gambling” but allude to it when the Roman soldiers tossed lots for Jesus’ robe when he was crucified).
Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
We live a short 90 years or so. What is the profit in putting any activity ahead of our devoted worship to Yahweh? There are different types and styles of gambling, but all of them have a common core – a dependency on self or “chance” to have gain. The Scriptures tell us we are to give up trying to control our lives and instead to depend on God to satisfy our needs. We will find great spiritual rewards that will not corrupt.
Matthew 6:19-20 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
The thievery of discontentment steals from our hearts contentment with our life with God. Wanting more and being dissatisfied is the beginning of many sins, one of which is gambling. As an example, I remember when our youngest son was 5 years old. Someone close to the family bought two $5.00 scratch-off type tickets. He spread the two of them out like a hand of cards and let our son choose the one he wanted. The ticket he selected won a dollar. The eyes of our son were as big as saucers, and he was so excited he won. Then, a week later, the friend bought two more tickets and repeated the same process. Well, wouldn’t you know that the one our son chose won AGAIN? Winning overjoyed the 5 year-old, and he wanted more and more. That was when my husband and I stepped in and did not allow any more tickets to be purchased for our son.
Children, when exposed to gambling by age of 9, have an extremely high probability of becoming compulsive gamblers. Our children need to learn that God – not a piece of paper – meets our needs and gives us joy. A great verse to memorize is:
Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
When we find ourselves discontented and our thoughts hard to bring back to a place of joy, we do well to pray and to talk with a fellow believer that does not struggle in the areas we do. The temptation to sin due to discontentment is always lurking about. We can invite it in or slam the door. Discontent is what knocks at the door and woos us to consider the sin.
Genesis 4:7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
We can develop discontentment and be like Adam, Cain, and Joseph’s brothers and allow the world and all of its shiny, dangly lures to snag us with its pleasures. Contentment that rises from Yahweh’s love, His protection, and the Kingdom He has prepared is great godly gain for us. We are to be disciplined in our minds and hearts to be content with Yahweh and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 15:16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and turmoil with it.
Statistics and information may be found on many websites that are for helping those who struggle with gambling or are closely associated with one who gambles. Help is available from your pastor, church, and Gam-anon groups.