Forthright Magazine Straight to the Cross http://www.forthright.net ---- When the love of money tempts you, say "Scam!" ---- COLUMN: Heavenly Connections Money Scams by Tim Hall Our local newspaper carried a story the other day on scams that seem to be on the increase. Tennessee's attorney general, Paul G. Summers, was quoted giving this warning to the state's citizens: "The promise of good money for little work is very intriguing to many, and we want to make sure Tennesseans know they could lose their money as a result of these empty promises." I'm glad public officials are concerned about the safety of the citizens' money, and that they are willing to give such warnings. The scam in question is one with which I've been approached two or three dozen times in the last year. An e-mail appears in my in-box from some dignitary of a foreign country (often it's Nigeria). An enormous sum of money is resting in a bank account, and this person needs my help in transferring it to the United States. In exchange for my help, I'm promised several millions of dollars. What the sender of this e-mail actually has in mind, though, is getting me to send chunks of money in the futile hope that I'll be handsomely rewarded. Futile hope -- it just ain't going to happen. But how many have sent large sums of money hoping to strike it rich with little effort?! Let me be perfectly candid, though. As I was reading the quote from the attorney general, I couldn't help but see great irony in his words. Less than a year ago, voters in our state approved the creation of a state lottery. Our state government is now in the gambling business, just like most other states in the U.S. Soon they will be paying for ads on television, enticing people to lay down chunks of money for "the promise of good money for little work" (a quote from Mr. Summers; see above). The odds may be a little better of winning the lottery than in receiving a reward from the Nigerian official; but not much better. Some are already objecting to where this article is obviously headed. "The Bible doesn't condemn gambling!" they rush to insist. No, the Bible does not condemn gambling per se. But there are plenty of principles that are relevant to this issue. Most would agree that Jesus' words in Luke 6:31 are to be foundational for Christians: "And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise" (New King James Version). The Golden Rule teaches us to wish for others the same good things we wish for ourselves. But that's impossible when we gamble. The purchase of a lottery ticket implicitly says "I hope no one except me wins". For me to win, everyone else must lose. Is that a Christ-like attitude? Here's another principle in question: "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need" (Ephesians 4:28). One reason able-bodied people work is to have something to give to those who are in need. But gambling uses that "surplus income" (and often much more besides). How can I give to others when I'm throwing it to the wind in the long-shot hope of a windfall? One other principle we'll mention is that found in 1 Timothy 6:6: "Now godliness with contentment is great gain." One who is content will see no need to put money in jeopardy -- money that might be used to help with needs elsewhere. One who is content doesn't have that constant craving for more. We already consider ourselves rich, in terms which God defines. (Be sure to read the rest of this chapter for other advice on money.) Lotteries, casinos, Internet gambling, sports betting -- they're all growing problems in our society. Why aren't our state officials warning us about these money scams? God has.