Read Clint Decker’s December HOPE FOR TODAY column here or on the blog site.

Gambling is a worldwide activity that has been around for much of human history. However, in modern times it has scaled like never before due to technology and public acceptance. Elected officials see the financial benefit of gambling, making it more accessible, and the church has muted its opposition..

The gambling industry in partnership with government and business have conspired together to produce a masterful public relations strategy. It promotes gambling as a fun recreational activity that also provides needed public funding for education or other worthy causes.

On the surface it all seems innocent, but at its core gambling is a wretched vice. This evil is built on a flashy, well-orchestrated scheme of stealing. Except, rather than doing it secretively, players willingly fork over their cash hand over fist. They give the card dealer, the grocery store clerk or the online website their hard earned income in return for a false hope of a jackpot rarely seen.

This devilish vice has been destroying lives for centuries and now more than ever. According to a Gambling treatment organization, over 80% of Americans have gambled on some level foolishly giving over $500 billion to these crafty thieves. On top of that it costs our economy over $40 billion, which comes from credit losses to businesses due to a gamblers unpaid debt and for the expense of social services to get them help. Additionally, gambling can lead to job loss, bankruptcy, fraud, depression, suicide, alcohol and drug abuse and much, much more. Get the picture? Every time I watch a TV add extolling the virtues of gambling I yell “It’s a lie!” Ask any family member of someone who has a gambling problem if they think it is just a “harmless recreational activity that is for the good of the economy and jobs.”

The Scripture is spot on when it comes to gambling saying, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10). The love of money drives this evil and its misplaced love has caused people to wander away from their jobs, families and God.

Yes, our businesses and families need to make an income to survive, but let us do it with a moral conscience. Do what is wise, right and good. Start by turning to God for His help in providing answers where there is financial need, no matter if it is in the hundreds or millions of dollars. Then let us patiently wait for His answer, turning from relying on our own wisdom. Real hope is not found in dollars and cents but in Almighty God who is Creator and Owner of all.