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Wouldn’t It Be Nice to Win the Lottery?

June 8, 2009

Did you ever play that game where you imagined you won the lottery or came into a large sum of money and daydreamed about all the things you would do with it?  I know I have.  I thought about the house I would buy, the car I would drive, the charities I would give to and businesses I would invest in.  The funny thing is that I’ve actually never played, but dreaming about it was always fun. 

Winning the Lottery

Photo by bjmin5

It sure would be nice to win the lottery.  Or would it?  I got to thinking about this again after the news about Neal Wanless, the 23-year old rancher from one of the poorest counties in the U.S. bought $15 worth of lottery tickets in a town called Winner and wound up being the big winner of $232 million dollars. 

Wanless, who is single and lives with his parents on the family’s 320-acre ranch in South Dakota, said he’s going to buy a bigger spread of land, repay the townspeople for the kindness they have shown his family and spend his fortune wisely.

“I want to thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity and blessing me with this great fortune. I will not squander it,” he said.  I hope that’s the case for Neal, for history has shown other lottery winners haven’t had the greatest fortune with their fortunes.

Take for example West Virginia’s Jack Whittaker, who won $315 million on Christmas Day, 2002.  Five years later Jack blamed the new riches for causing his granddaughter’s fatal drug overdose, his divorce, his inability to trust and for the hundreds of lawsuits filed against him.

“I don’t have any friends,” he told The Associated Press in 2007. “Every friend that I’ve had, practically, has wanted to borrow money or something and of course, once they borrow money from you, you can’t be friends anymore.”

This isn’t the case for every lottery winner, but there are countless stories on the web about winners squandering every last cent and wishing they had never even purchased the ticket.  What every lottery winner eventually finds out is that true joy does not come from any amount of money.  

On the surface it seems to me like life would be so much easier having that much cash in the bank, being able to buy whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  But it’s not true.  Happiness derived from money is fleeting.  It won’t last because it’s not designed to give us ultimate joy.  We were made to find our full joy, satisfaction and treasure in worshipping and being in relationship with our great God.  Jesus said to his disciples in John 15:11, ” These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”  The danger of winning the lottery or having any amount of money for that matter is that it can lead us away from our great Savior and prohibit us from finding complete joy in Him. 

Perhaps a wise prayer for us to meditate on is found in Proberbs 30:8-9:

“..give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Carr permalink
    June 8, 2009 9:21 pm

    This is great — I didn’t even realize you had a blog. You appear to have a writing gift and I would encourage your development of that gift.

  2. June 8, 2009 9:28 pm

    Excellent post, Jason! It’s so true that money does not bring happiness and that only the Lord can really satisfy us.

    I find it very difficult to work and own a business in a culture that believes the exact opposite and seeks to pull every dime away from me that they can. I can truthfully say that finding a balance is a juggling act. Too much compassion and the lack of desire for money can lead a business down the road to failure. Yet, greed and desire for worldly treasure is not from the Lord and does not please Him. How do you think that we can find a peaceful coexistence between being successfull in sales without the desire to have more money?

    • June 9, 2009 7:26 am

      Nancy, thanks for the great comment. I can definitely relate. It is difficult to maintain that balance. Something that God has been teaching me lately is that the more I find Jesus to be my true treasure, the more content I am with whatever the results are.

      In Randy Alcorn’s book The Treausre Principle he talks about determining what you can live on and basically giving away the rest. I think there’s some good wisdom in that.

      Praying for God to keep you from the love of money is key and ultimately it comes down to the heart and where our true treasure is.

  3. June 9, 2009 11:15 am

    Its very hard, for me at least, not to resent God for not giving me the wealth of lets say Donald Trump & Bill Gates when I feel I can do more to further HIS Kingdom with it than them. They are probably writing checks to charities because its financially better for them (write-off) plus they are charities that are non Christian organizations.

    I constantly have to say to myself “Don’t judge” or “It’s God’s Plan”

    Whew that is hard to do. Im exhausted just thinking about it. 🙂

  4. June 9, 2009 11:16 am

    Good as always Jason!

  5. Aaron Carter permalink
    June 9, 2009 10:49 pm

    Thanks for the imparted wisdom. It is always a conscious effort to make sure my goals are not worldly and that I am following God’s will, especially when it comes to career goals. It all comes down to what am I worshipping, the Creator or created things? I am learning that true joy is through being fully satisfied in Him.

  6. LnddMiles permalink
    July 21, 2009 9:05 pm

    Pretty cool post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say
    that I have really liked reading your blog posts. Anyway
    I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you post again soon!

  7. rochanda permalink
    September 2, 2009 8:28 pm

    i dont agree with you all when you say that money dont buy does for me because all my life i have been a giver and i get more joy out of giving to the needy and helping people then just keeping it all to myself.i have a daughter who has sickle cell disease and i could certainly contribute more to that organization and educational organizations that will help kids go to college.

    • September 2, 2009 9:33 pm

      Actually we may agree more than you think. If I understand you correctly, what you’re saying is you receive a greater joy from giving away your money, not in hoarding it.

      I totally agree with that. In my opinion it’s not your money that is making you happy, but rather the ability to be a blessing to others that is leading to your joy.

      Jesus is right when he says it’s better to give than receive. And of course, He himself is the ultimate example of giving – since He gave his life that we might receive fellowship and eternal life.

      Keep up the great work and attitude with your money. I wish your daughter the best!


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