I understand that gambling is wrong, but someone just asked me recently if “playing” the stock market is gambling. With so many people using the Internet to invest and trade…isn’t the main reason also to make “quick” money, not just necessarily investing for the future?
You have brought up a very good question, and one in which motives (which we do not always know) play a very big part in the answer.
It is definitely wrong to take part in the stock market to “get rich quick.” Proverbs 28:22 says, “HE THAT HASTETH TO BE RICH HATH AN EVIL EYE, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.” Proverbs 23:4 says, “LABOUR NOT TO BE RICH: cease from thine own wisdom.” Proverbs 28:20 says, “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but HE THAT MAKETH HASTE TO BE RICH SHALL NOT BE INNOCENT.” The way that the stock market is right now (1999), many people are taking part in it for the wrong reason — to “get rich quick.” Many times stocks that offer such promises (or hopes) are actually quite a gamble.
Normally, you could not say that investing in the stock market is the same as gambling, because you are dealing with real work and services being performed. When a person invests money in the stock market, it allows those businesses to expand and/or to have the necessary capital to offer new products or services, etc. The more products a company can sell, the more buying power a company has, which means that that company can buy materials more cheaply in a larger volume, and thus make more of a profit. If a company uses that profit wisely by investing in more machinery and/or services, then that company will become more valuable, and will reward its investors by the value of the stock rising.
This is exactly why we are seeing smaller businesses disappear today. If a business orders one microwave oven for a customer, it may cost that business $100 from his supplier. But the nationwide retailer may buy 50 skids of that same microwave, and get them for a price of $50 each from the manufacturer. You can quickly see why the nationwide retailer can offer the microwave cheaper than the small store owner can buy it himself.
Now here the motives play a part in the company, and in the investors. If ambition is the motive, then the Bible commends that. Proverbs 27:23,24 says, “BE THOU DILIGENT to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?” Is there someone running the company that is ambitious, because he wants to offer a good product or services? Is someone investing in the company because they see that ambition showing in the products, and want to be a part of such a company? Diligence is a key in the matter, whether for the owner of the company, or the one investing in the company. Proverbs 22:29 says, “SEEST THOU A MAN DILIGENT IN HIS BUSINESS? HE SHALL STAND BEFORE KINGS; he shall not stand before mean men”. In other words, he will be well known and respected for his diligence in running his business wisely and ambitiously.
We see examples in the Bible of men who were ambitious, and it was seen and recognized by others. One example is Joseph. Genesis 39:1-6 says, “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And THE LORD WAS WITH JOSEPH, AND HE WAS A PROSPEROUS MAN; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. AND HIS MASTER SAW THAT THE LORD WAS WITH HIM, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that THE LORD BLESSED THE EGYPTIAN’S HOUSE FOR JOSEPH’S SAKE; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.” Joseph was obviously an ambitious worker, and the Lord blessed him for that. You cannot say that Joseph did it for money, because there was no money in it for him — he was a slave.
The same thing happened after Joseph was lied about, and found himself in prison. Genesis 39:20-23 says, “And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and WHATSOEVER THEY DID THERE, HE WAS THE DOER OF IT. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, AND THAT WHICH HE DID, THE LORD MADE IT TO PROSPER.”
Jacob’s father-in-law realized the same thing about him. Genesis 30:25-27 says, “And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country. Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee. And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, TARRY: FOR I HAVE LEARNED BY EXPERIENCE THAT THE LORD HATH BLESSED ME FOR THY SAKE.” Later, Jacob would tell about how he had served his father-in-law. Genesis 31:38-40 says, “This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten. That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night. THUS I WAS: IN THE DAY THE DROUGHT CONSUMED ME, AND THE FROST BY NIGHT; AND MY SLEEP DEPARTED FROM MINE EYES.”
The Bible commends ambition, and condemns laziness. Proverbs 12:24 says, “THE HAND OF THE DILIGENT SHALL BEAR RULE: BUT THE SLOTHFUL SHALL BE UNDER TRIBUTE.” Proverbs 18:9 says, “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.” Proverbs 19:24 says, “A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.” Proverbs 21:25 says, “THE DESIRE OF THE SLOTHFUL KILLETH HIM, FOR HIS HANDS REFUSE TO LABOUR.”
The godly, ambitious person does not work and invest for the sake of getting rich, but for the sake of being a wise steward of that which God has given to him. Luke 19:12-24 “He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.” We are to be ambitious with the means and talents with which God has given to us.
In regard to the use of the Internet to invest, the same holds true — it depends upon the individual’s motives. The Internet could help a diligent man to keep better track of the companies in which he is investing. On the other hand, a greedy person could invest more than he really can afford, and in shaky enterprises — all for the love of fast money. Once again, Proverbs 28:20 says, “…he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.”
A person who has a large sum of money has to be very careful. The Bible tells us in I Timothy 6:6-10, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. BUT THEY THAT WILL BE RICH FALL INTO TEMPTATION AND A SNARE, AND INTO MANY FOOLISH AND HURTFUL LUSTS, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Are you saved and laying up treasure where it really counts? Matthew 6:19,20 says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But LAY UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES IN HEAVEN, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”