Many people have reservations about investing because they believe that investing is the same as gambling. But as we take a closer look, we realize that investing and gambling are inherently different. Gambling is leveraging what you already own to get more through means that are statistically unlikely to work, and could lead to devastating loss. Investing is allocating resources in a thoughtful and calculated way with the expectation of generating an income or profit. Let’s take a deeper look!
Definition of Gambling
In order to understand the question, “Is Investing the same as gambling?” we must first understand what gambling is. Simply put, gambling is leveraging what you already own to get more through means that are statistically unlikely to work and could lead to devastating loss.
Definition of Investing
Different from gambling, investing is allocating resources, usually money, in a thoughtful and calculated way, with the expectation of generating an income or profit.
- You can invest in a business startup.
- You can invest in a business with hopes that they increase sales and you earn some of the profits.
- You can invest in real estate with hopes of reselling it later at a higher price.
- You can invest in tangible assets that have or will have greater demand, interest or value in the future.
Biblical view of Gambling
- To get a solid Biblical view of gambling, I would recommend that if you did not listen to our previous episode (075: Is Gambling a Sin?) please do so in order to get a good and expansive understanding of what the Scriptures say about gambling.
- To summarize what we shared last episode:
- Gambling, as we know it today, is not mentioned in the Bible.
- Gambling, as we know it today, is poor stewardship of the resources that the Lord has put into your care.
- Gambling’s drive, emotions, and actions are ALL opposite to what the Scriptures express should be cultivated in and through the life of the Biblical steward.
Biblical view of Investing
- Investing is putting a portion of your money to work in business or ventures that seek to make the world a better place. Solving problems faced by hundreds, thousands, millions or billions of people world wide. Investing involves risk of loss. There is “chance” involved in investing but not to the same level or extent of gambling. It is not a get rich quick scheme, it’s a get rich slowly plan.
- Investing is one way to multiply the resources God has given you to not only provide for your current needs (you and your family) but to also provide for your future needs. It is also a great means to increase our current wealth above and beyond our needs to make an impact for the Kingdom both locally and world-wide.
- Let’s take a look at Matthew 25:14-28, the parable of the talents:
- “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. “ ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” (Matthew 25:14–29, NIV84)
- The two stewards that increased their talents (through investing in some way) were commended for what they did with the money. They did not let it lay idle, but instead, they put that money to work! Not only were they commended, but because of their prudent investments, the owner of the “talents” entrusted each of those servants with additional responsibilities due to their wise stewardship.
- On the other hand, the one steward that chose to hide the money instead of investing it for any sort of return was chastised, and the talent that he was entrusted with was taken away and given to one of the other servants.
- What are some high-level take-aways from this?
- God is pro-investing!
- God understands how money works.
- God blesses those that work wisely with money!
How to build wealth according to the Bible
- Genesis 2:15 – “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
- Ecclesiastes 5:18 – “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot.”
- Psalm 128:2 – “You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.”
How NOT to build wealth according to the Bible
- Proverbs 24:30-34 – “I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”
- Proverbs 20:4 – “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.”
- Proverbs 21:25 – “The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.”
Verses about how to and how not to build wealth
- Proverbs 14:23 – “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.”
- Proverbs 13:11 – “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.”
- Proverbs 12:24 – “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.”
- Proverbs 12:11 – “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.”
- Proverbs 13:4 – “A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”
- 15 percent of Americans gamble at least once per week.
- Approximately two to three percent of Americans meet the criteria for “problem gambling.” That’s around 6 million adults and about a half million teens.
- The National Gambling Impact Study Commission found that those with incomes of less than $10,000 spend more on lottery tickets than any other group, while high school dropouts spend four times as much as college graduates.
- Sports betting saw a 230% increase from 2020 to 2021 (Pandemic days).
- Sports betting between the first month of 2021 and the first month of 2022 saw a 80% increase on top of the previous years growth.
- Gambling is close to a $50 BILLION/year industry (including sports betting, casinos etc…)
- If it is a $50 Billion dollar a year industry, what does that say about the odds against you winning?
Is Investing a Form of Gambling? Here are some Differences:
- Investing gives ownership. Gambling does not.
- Investing includes compound interest over time (episode #50), whereas gambling is a “Get-Rich-Quick” Scheme.
- Investing can limit risk through diversification. Gambling tends to be “all or nothing.”
- Investing includes statistical research, logic, and reason that can influence the investment. Gambling is solely based on chance or luck.
- Wise investing is inherently much less risky than gambling. The odds are almost always against you in gambling, where long-term investing puts the odds in your favor!
- In the world of investing, historically, we have seen that there is a 75% chance that you will make money in any given year!
- Investing is long-term (over years/decades). Gambling is short-term (momentary).
- Investing shows wise preparation for the future. Gambling demonstrates impulsive behavior and lads to addiction.
“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” – Proverbs 13:11
“Is it considered gambling if I’m risking money on raising crops or cattle, investing in commodities, stocks, or a new start-up business … especially when the outcome is uncertain?”
- No. Gambling is a win-lose situation. Someone has to lose money in order for someone to win. However, investing is intended to be a win-win situation. For example, by starting a small restaurant, you have the opportunity to …
- Prepare food for the public
- Produce income for employees
- Purchase food, furniture, and supplies from vendors
- Provide income for yourself or your family
- Participate in economic growth and value of a community
- Gamblers have no input or part in determining or even influencing the outcome, no control whatsoever, whereas investors in business ventures can minimize their risk by gaining knowledge and making wise decisions.
- Hunt, June. Biblical Counseling Keys on Gambling. Plano, TX: Hope For The Heart, 2012. Print. Hope for the Heart Series.
It is possible to approach investing like a gambler?
- Absolutely. See our episode on GameStop and WallStreetBets! You may be gambling in the stock market if you are trying to get rich quick. For example, hoping a stock “goes to the moon” within a short period of time and the hope of striking it big may be a form of gambling. Ultimately, this is a heart issue and needs to be kept in check with the Word of God.
Do I have a better chance of increasing wealth through investing or gambling?
- In the world of investing, historically, we have seen that there is a 75% chance that you will make money in any given year! Therefore, the house does not always win in investing as in gambling!
- See the Annual Returns Chart below. Statistically, you are much more likely to have a positive year in the stock market than gambling your savings away at a casino.
Why is gambling wrong and investing right?
- Go back to proverbs – hard work and consistency is what God calls us to. The believer puts his hope and trust in God, not in what we have (or hope to have)! We are to worship God and not wealth and riches. Ultimately, it is all about wise stewardship! Gambling does not use God’s resources wisely! There is almost a guarantee of losing money in a casino. Why would it be wise to waste God’s resources away when there are more confident ways to steward these resources well? I would not want to stand before God, having to give an answer to why I lost that which was no mine in foolish endeavors.
As a wise steward, we understand that all that we have is not truly ours, but God’s. Therefore, to summarize, gambling with that which is not yours, because you are a steward of what GOD has put into your care, is utterly foolish. The risk is way too high and the potential of loss is VERY great.
Investing is a wise, intentional and calculated process of growing the initial investment. The risk of loss, because it is a wise and calculated process, can be greatly mitigated. While investing always includes a potential loss of principle, there are ways to diversify and allocate assets to limit risk in the market. You can’t do that with gambling!
- Gambling focuses on the fast and big win with high risk of loss of everything
- Wisdom plays the long-game with money and investments allowing the time-value of money and wise adjustments to bring about a “steady-as-she-goes” growth.
Gambling puts your focus on the things of this world, while the Steward fixes his eye on the world to come!
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