Interest had been steadily growing until the largest mega-millions jackpot in four years was finally won for the staggering amount of $390 million. The winning numbers were 22-24-31-52-54, with Megaball number 4. The final jackpot is the sixth-highest in the game's history.
But despite the staggering sum, the reward will not be as large as it seems since it will have to be split 7 ways. A group of Information Technology professionals at New York's Housing and Community Renewal in Albany, N.Y. will share the winnings. Hopefully dividing the total up will still allow each winner enough to survive on since, after taxes, they will be forced to subside on just $29 million each. How will they ever make ends meet?
That prized ticket was purchased at Coulson's News Center, a mainstay downtown news and convenience store in Albany, New York. The owner of the market stated about the ticket from his store, “It makes me feel warm inside." If that is true, I wonder what the inner temperature of the 7 winners is today? Perhaps theirs is somewhere in the vicinity of the surface of the sun! But as far as hitting the mega-millions, one lottery official said, “Given your life span, you might have better odds of getting struck by lightning more than 5,000 times before winning such a big prize.” In other words, you have almost as good a chance of winning even if you do not play as if you do!
Many Americans apparently dream of becoming instantly rich as evidenced by the intense interest in large lotteries and even gambling in general and especially on sports. From a biblical standpoint, there is nothing inherently wrong with having wealth. But Scripture cautions strongly and repeatedly of the dangers of having great wealth or anything material if it becomes life’s priority and driving force.
Several passages that are well known on the subject come instantly to mind. First and foremost could well be I Timothy 6:8-10. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
There is also in Mark 10 - the so-called story of the "Rich Young Ruler." He came running to Jesus seeking eternal life but rejected the Savior’s offer because of his inability to free himself of his great earthly possessions. Verses 21-22 conclude the eternally tragic encounter. “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me. But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
Then there comes from the Old Testament the reality offered in Proverbs 23:5: “Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”
But no familiar passage is more haunting than Jesus’ successive questions in Mark 8:36-37: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Hopefully those who together split this latest super-jackpot will not be utterly consumed by their newfound worldly wealth and have their lives literally ruined as has been the case with so many in their shoes. Hopefully they will take the opportunity to do much good – things they could not have dreamed of even a week earlier. (Galatians 6:10)
Hopefully these new millionaires already know Christ as Savior and fully comprehend what literal and lasting riches really are according to the words of 2 Corinthians 8:9. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” And hopefully those who do not know Him now will not have their hearts so deeply buried under their millions that they are unable to come to Christ who loved them and voluntarily gave up the riches of heaven itself to die as a pauper on a cross in their place.
Perhaps the entire subject is summed up best in I Timothy 6:17-19 as both a strong challenge for Christians, and as a stern warning for those who do not know Christ as Savior:
“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.“