Mr. Godwin worked with my father as his security detail. However, while working for this man of God, he was a gambler. NaijaBet, the popular soccer betting site was bookmarked on his phone and he always prayed for God to help him win games.
Good news! God answered his prayers. Or, so he thought. He won over a Million Naira, married his fiancee, moved into a better apartment and thanked God for remembering him when he needed help most. He counts it as one of the blessings he got from God, while working with my father.
I have heard Christians say Gambling is a sin, because it is not work. They say betting is a sin because it requires “luck”, not God’s favor. To those Christians, I want to say, if you DO NOT UNDERSTAND something, just keep away. If you do not understand the amount of WORK these gamblers put in, then do not classify them as sinners.
Many scriptures are referred to in the argument that gambling is a sin, the point being that gambling is as a result of the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10). And that is where many Christians get it wrong. First, there is nothing wrong with increasing your finances through lawful means. Secondly, many gamblers have other sources of income. Lastly, not all gamblers are a nuisance to the society.
Gambling is just one of those exercises we carry out as human beings. Gambling is about making a prediction, and when it is right, people get rewarded. Compare a gambler to a Seer/spiritualist who “sees visions” and makes predictions, and gets paid by their clients when their predictions come to pass. A gambler is the Nostradamus of our time, if his predictions are correct though.
Our everyday life is a gamble, because it is filled with decisions and choices we have to make. From the food we’d like to eat to the religion to practice, life is a gamble. And that freedom to gamble, to make a choice, to decide how one makes his profit, is God-given. Where we fall short of God’s expectations from us as His people with free will, is when we allow the Devil to take over. And that is when we allow our habits to shift us from the will of God, when we start becoming wiser than the God who has given us the breathe of life to make choices, when we allow the habit of gambling to prevent us from performing our duties to God and the people around us. When we become a threat to the privacy and peace of others.
It is only in this situation that people, especially Christians, give room for their freedoms to be taken away, and such an exercise termed evil and detrimental to the society. The recent ban on cough syrups that contain Codeine is an example.
I know a lot of very responsible family men who do soccer betting as an alternative source of income, and for a country like Nigeria, in its worsening economic state, young men have resorted to soccer betting to take care of themselves and stay away from the wrong side of the law. Mr. Godwin, for instance, is a Policeman who was attached to my father as a security detail. He has a steady income, and does not allow his betting exercise to distract him from his duties. Nigerians are aware of the financial suffering officers of the Nigerian Police Force go through.
News Flash! In this era of Feminism and increasing call for gender equality, women (single and married) are not left behind in the betting exercise. Last September, on my way to Edo State from Imo State, Nigeria, I noticed this woman beside me was bent on her tab, placing bets. I turned to get a proper view and she gave me a stern look; maybe she thought I wanted to steal her codes or whatever they use. I smiled to myself, as I made a new discovery that day. Nigerian women play soccer bets too! Wonderful. If it helps to support the financial situation at home, why not?
If we have the freedom to engage in commercial businesses knowing that they may or may not yield profit, then people should also exercise the freedom of engaging in gambling, most especially, soccer betting which is in the front burner of social discuss in Nigeria today.
To many, Like Mr. Godwin, gambling may not be a sin. Gambling is work, and God blesses the work of our hands (Proverbs 16:33). But others, maybe because they are afraid of falling into the temptation of greed, label gambling a sin, and try so hard to prevent others from becoming victims. Either way, let us remember that we have freedom from God, and in Christ Jesus. We should therefore try to subject our own God-given will, to the general will of God, and that is the only way we can freely and without guilt, do the acceptable will of God, and reap the benefits that come with such commitment.