Saturday, November 9, 2019
I recently dreamed that my husband Richard and I were performing our dance ministry at a hotel in Las Vegas. On our way out of the hotel, Richard grabbed some loose change from his pocket and threw them into a slot machine before I could protest, as neither of us gamble. To our surprise, he not only hit the jackpot, but the payout was in gold coins.
These appeared to be of several denominations, but on closer inspection, they looked more like subway tokens. A taxi would be picking us up in a few moments to go to the airport, and I was concerned about where to hide the coins so that no one would see them or attempt to steal them. I slid them inside my sock, where they made a painful lump under the ball of my foot, causing me to wince with every step.
Once in line at airport security, I worried that they would not let us pass with the coins. But it would be even worse to try to hide them, so out from my sock they came. As I placed them in a small tray to go through the conveyor belt, I was relieved when the inspector just waved me through.
Back in my sock they went, but after a long flight and finally arriving home, I realized that all the coins had vanished!
I awoke in a panic and considered the symbolism of the dream. The world promises us an easy return on our investment – quick profit from a hot stock tip, winning the lottery, or even finding fame and fortune through a “lucky” break. The trouble with these get-rich-quick schemes is that often they attempt to circumvent hard work, playing by the rules, trusting God to provide for us, and honoring Christian ideals (Psalm 37:25, Matthew 6:8; Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:10).
Gambling is legal in some states and international waters, and seems to hurt no one. Yet by participating in gambling, we are indirectly supporting an industry that preys on the addiction of some to this compulsive behavior, often leading to their financial and emotional ruin. The gambler may at first seem to hit a lucky streak, but in the end, the house always wins. The callous soldiers gambling for Jesus’ garments at the foot of His cross, while He suffered and died, may be a poignant illustration of how God views this behavior (Matthew 27:35).
Satan may dangle shiny objects before us to get our attention, appealing to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16), just as he did with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:6). He minimizes the risk of what seems to be a trivial act of disobedience, convinces us that we are strong enough to handle it, and maximizes the imagined gain, for he is the father of lies (John 8:44).
In the dream, the impulsive act of gambling with a small amount of money led to a huge gain, but at what cost? The sense of elation over the win quickly disappeared, just as we may enjoy the pleasures of sin, but only for a season (Hebrews 11:25), before we must face the consequences (Romans 6:23). First there was the constant irritation and physical pain involved in hiding the coins, then the anxiety that they would be stolen or cause us to be harmed, and finally the sense of loss and disappointment when they vanished.
And was the profit even worth the risk in the first place? The coins appeared to be gold, but may have actually been mere subway tokens. These are of little monetary value, and have only one use. They work to get us from one station to another, but in the end, we are still underground and far from the light of day. We can’t use them to stay in a hotel, board a plane, or engage in any transactions in the “real” world above ground.
Satan may deceive us into thinking we are getting ahead, but if we accept his rewards and follow his schemes, we are still trapped in an endless maze of tunnels that ultimately leads only to hell (Luke 12:5). Why do people gamble with their own soul? What reward of monetary gain, fame, or power could possibly be worth risking your eternal destiny? (Matthew 16:26)
Satan may distract us from following God’s true purpose for our life (Hebrews 12:1). Even once we are saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), we can lose out on eternal rewards by seeking earthly gain instead of eternal treasure (Luke 12:16-21).
Job was a man of great material wealth who feared God and trusted Him in all circumstances. When his wealth disappeared in an instant, he realized that God is not only the giver of all good gifts (James 1:17), but the One Who can redistribute it according to His purposes (Job 1:21).
Money is a gift that God entrusts to us to provide for our needs, the needs of our family and community, and especially to return to Him through our church and through supporting missions (Genesis 14:20; Malachi 3:8-10; Philippians 4:10-17). If we are poor stewards, no longer faithful to God’s plan, He will reapportion that money to better stewards (Luke 12:42; 1 Corinthians 4:2). Even worse, the love of money, meaning to desire wealth as an idol we hold dearer than God, is the root of all evil, causing some to wander from their faith and to pierce themselves with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10).
How much better to store up our treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:20), devoting our time, talents and treasure to serving God rather than to foolishly chase earthly gain! We know God rewards us richly through spiritual blessings on earth and watches carefully over our heavenly treasure.
The worries attached to financial responsibilities, the anxiety over changes in fortune, and the sorrow of monetary loss can be replaced by the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), the joy in sharing God’s love with others, and the sure hope of eternal rewards (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) as Jesus says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21)
© 2019 Laurie Collett