Something Better Than Something for Nothing
NEARLY all gamblers end up poorer than before they started gambling. Often, even the few who do win large sums find that their winnings are not a passport to happiness.
A 36-year-old bachelor in Japan won $45,000 in a lottery. He intended to buy a house with his winnings, but he was the subject of so much envy and backbiting that he decided it just wasn’t worth it. To the astonishment of his workmates, he burned his winning ticket before their eyes.
Police in Florida arrested a woman who, despite having won $5 million in a lottery, plotted to kill her daughter-in-law. Her son said that she was frantic because of bad investments and excessive spending that had eaten away her fortune.
A Loser Who Became a Winner
Domingo was a compulsive gambler and father of five. He explains: “If I won, it was worse. I thought I was some sort of genius, and I couldn’t wait to get back to the gaming tables to prove that it wasn’t a fluke.
“When this obsession took hold of me, it was as if I were drugged. I was prepared to abandon my wife and children just to keep on gambling. Even though I repeatedly swore to my wife that I would never gamble again, I knew in my heart that these promises were worthless. I remember once assuring my wife that I was finished with gambling for good, when at that very moment, I was scheming how to obtain money to wager.
“I lost all my money, my wife’s money, and my business, and I plunged heavily into debt. Not a day passed without a wager of some sort, until something happened that forced me to take stock of myself. I began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was impressed by what I learned, but I didn’t stop gambling right away. I’m grateful that the Witness who studied with me was so patient.
“But the message of the Bible soon started to affect me. It helped me to abandon my dream world and to see myself as God saw me. It was a shock. I felt deeply ashamed, like those to whom the apostle Paul wrote in the first century: ‘What, then, was the fruit that you used to have at that time? Things of which you are now ashamed. For the end of those things is death.’—Romans 6:21.
“Getting to know God, his name, his personality, and especially his mercy moved me to want to change my ways, to think of others rather than myself. Finally I broke free from the gambling habit completely, and my wife and I were baptized.
“Jesus said that the truth would set us free. (John 8:32) That was certainly true in my case. It was the truth of God’s Word that gave me something worthwhile to live for, gave me back my self-respect, and brought me great satisfaction. I was even able to help one of my former gambling friends to remake his life just as I had done. When he and his wife were baptized, it gave me a greater thrill than any gambling win had ever done.
“In the last 20 years, I have not wagered anything, not even a small amount. I can’t say it has been easy, but it has not been that difficult either. And what God has given me has more than filled those needs that I sought to satisfy by gambling.”*
The Scriptural viewpoint is of prime importance for those who wish to do the will of God. And those who follow God’s counsel not only avoid the grief that gambling can bring but find that he offers them something that far excels any gambling win.
A Fortune of Far Greater Worth
Paul, writing to Timothy in the first century, said: “Instruct [them] not to fix their hopes on so uncertain a thing as money, but upon God, who endows us richly with all things to enjoy. Tell them to do good . . . , to be ready to give away and to share, and so acquire a treasure which will form a good foundation for the future. Thus they will grasp the life which is life indeed.”—1 Timothy 6:17-19, The New English Bible.
One treasure to be grasped is a good name with God. This leads to a “life which is life indeed”—everlasting life, the greatest prize ever offered. Jesus said in prayer to God: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
Unlike uncertain monetary prizes, the prize that God offers can be won by anyone and everyone who does God’s will. Furthermore, doing God’s will provides all the excitement anyone could wish for, and it gives the person self-respect and a meaningful life. Meanwhile, in view of the bitter price of gambling, remember the advice of an old English proverb: “The best throw of the dice is to throw them away.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses have helped many compulsive gamblers to overcome their addiction. Others have been aided by self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous.
[Picture on page 10]
Everlasting life on a paradise earth is a far greater prize than any attained by gambling