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It happened again. Another Mega Millions jackpot record was just set; this time for $1.6 billion.

Even before news broke that there was a winning ticket purchased in South Carolina, we knew how the scene would play out. We’d flick on the evening news and the reporter standing outside a gas station would announce big news. “Somebody picked the right numbers!” she’d exclaim. “At least somewhere out there, one person is happy. For the rest of us, it’s back to work tomorrow.”

Never mind that none of this makes any sense. No single human being requires $1.6 billion, not in a single lifetime or even in a hundred of them. We’re talking more money than the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of Liberia and Niger combined!

But in a first-world context, this is the pinnacle of human experience. We tag this person “a winner” and bestow them with highest praise, “Congratulations! You now have more money than you can possibly spend! We can only dream of the day when such good fortune might come our way!”

You may think I’m headed toward the trite assertion that having piles of money is inherently evil. I’m not and it isn’t, necessarily. Instead, what floors me is just how easily we drink the Kool-Aid and believe that “making it” in life means never having another ounce of financial worry, ever.

What floors me is just how easily we drink the Kool-Aid and believe that “making it” in life means never having another ounce of financial worry, ever.

It’s no news flash this assumption is held by people who fill your church pews each Sunday. Somehow, it’s humanly possible to hold onto both the hope of redemption and Mega Millions.

How does your church counter culture when it comes to wealth? What practices are promoted so wealth is kept in check? When do conversations about personal finances and generous giving take place? Who is having them? How often?

Lottery records will keep shattering. Dreams about how to spend untold millions will continue to be spun by throngs. But this doesn’t mean the Church can’t grow believers who know better.

Instead of pointless spending, your church members can continue to use wealth to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8, NIV).

This version of “making it” in life will outlast even the most fantastic jackpot. 


There is an old but still valid saying: Government sponsored lotteries are just a sneaky tax on stupidity.

The good news is that any individual person can opt out of the tax.  The bad news is that government sponsored lotteries are also a form of public education, and the lessons taught, as explained in part by this article, are not good at all but rather destructive.

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