John Steward of Jesus
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Our Betting Games

April 5, 1984

The recent indictments of those placing illegal bets have been well publicized.

I donít wish to excuse those who are indicted. But, I do wonder who among us is qualified to cast the first stone.

Most of us who have bought stocks in a company in recent years have done so not because we were convinced that the company was well suited to offer needed goods or services at a competitive price, but because we thought the price of the stock would go up. We are more interested in the daily stock price than we are in production reports. We bet on the direction of the price movement, and toss our money into the ring.

Most of us who have bought or sold commodity futures have done so not because these transactions hedged our productive enterprises against price fluctuations, but because we were placing bets on the direction of price movement. We placed our bets, and held our breath.

Many of us have bought land and houses, not because they were available at prudent prices we could afford, but because we wanted to join all those who had borrowed to place bets on increasing prices, and seemed to be winning. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, we said. We placed a bet, hoped for a payoff greater than we could earn in many years, and waited in suspense.

We have bought equipment, not because we could justify its cost in benefits received, but because we were betting that prices would rise, and we could sell the equipment years later for almost what we paid for it.

Apart from the technical legality, I see no moral difference between the actions of those indicted and the actions of the rest of us.

What the rest of us have done is far more dangerous and destructive to the future of our children. We have deteriorated from a thrifty, productive people into a betting and gambling people.

When we read the details of the trials, let us repent, and pray for renewal.