Just imagine winning a prize of hundreds of millions of dollars with the only investment being a tiny piece of paper no larger than a book of stamps. This prospect of winning great wealth for just a few bucks, as pathetically remote as it is, often results in a frenzy of activity when the lottery shoots up—a frenzy that fuels itself. Especially huge numbers, such as the 2012 lottery of $640,000,000, grab headlines as wishful thinkers endure lines to purchase tickets hoping to get in on “The Poor Man’s Tax,” no matter the infinitesimal odds of winning. When someone does finally win, acrimony, controversy, loss of privacy, and sometimes even the loss of the millions themselves, results.
It is unlikely that the “lucky” winners will experience happiness or even lasting prosperity from their winnings. Anciently, Solomon, the wise King of Israel, wrote in his Book of Proverbs, “Wealth hastily gotten will dwindle, but those who gather little by little will increase it” (Proverbs 13:11, NRSV).
The subject of whether or not we should have gambling—including lotteries—is answered pretty clearly in the negative in the Bible, but that is not the subject or purpose of the commentary.
The larger question for all of us is, what should we prize? What should we seek, as we put forth our time, our talent, and our effort in our daily lives? What should we value highly and pursue tenaciously as we live our lives whether we are working or enjoying recreation? There is timeless instruction and good counsel on this very important subject in the Bible. As Jesus Christ walked the dusty roads of Judea and the surrounding area, he taught His disciples and any others who would listen to Him on this very subject. Then, as now, people were deeply concerned about food and clothing and shelter to the exclusion of thinking about spiritual, eternal things. So, Jesus made it plain to them what their priority should be when He taught, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). He was making the point that it is very important to set right priorities in our lives and to pursue righteousness rather than riches. It is the same today.
Again, we find that the Book of Proverbs is right on point with this instruction: “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4). True riches are not equated to money, but to God’s providence and peace of mind, even in the face of adversity.
The Apostle Paul had his priorities right when he wrote, near the end of his life, about the prize which he had spent his life pursuing: “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14). Paul looked forward with great anticipation to receiving eternal life in the Kingdom of God. It is the ultimate prize to which all true Christians aspire.
While it may mean rearranging your priorities and making some changes in your lifestyle, with God’s help you can begin to pursue the biggest prize of all. You too can become a part of the “little flock” (Luke 12:32) that is doing the Work and eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus Christ to usher in His Kingdom, in which they will enjoy eternal life carrying out God’s plan for mankind.
To learn more about that plan, and about what it means for your life and the lives of your loved ones, read our booklets Restoring Original Christianity and The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like? You can read them online, or order your own printed copies, absolutely free of charge. These booklets will give you valuable information to help you seek your prize.