Millions of people buy lottery tickets. Each one of them dreams of being the next big jackpot winner. After all, when you do win several million dollars, all your dreams will come true. You can quit your job and live the rest of your life without a care in the world. You can buy a new car, completely furnish a new home and install a fancy security system to protect all your possessions while you sail around the world. Isn’t that right?
Well, not really. In fact, you might be downright worse off if you become an instant millionaire than if you plug away at working for a living and paying your bills from the sweat-of-your-brow income. Wealth is rather like fame. When it comes upon people suddenly, it can swell the head and shrink the brain.
Many an heir has wiped out a family fortune through frivolous living and excessive spending. The same is true of lottery winners. The federal government takes its share and then – wow! The rest is yours to do whatever you please with it. You have no background in high finance or investments and common sense flies right out the window. Compared to your weekly paycheck which barely covers the necessities, you now have money to burn. And burn it, winners do.
It’s a great life. Except that your windfall can cause rifts in the family and alienate you from your friends. But that shouldn’t be a problem. You will have lots of new “friends” who want you to invest in their projects, and charities no one has ever heard of will expect you to be their benefactor. Your new friends will cling to you “forever,” or at least until you exhaust your resources, whichever comes first.
Winning the lottery will not guarantee a fairy tale existence. One family member tried to have his brother killed for the inheritance. At least one winner committed suicide. Some winners have gambled or “invested” in alcohol and drugs. Some ran through all their money in a relatively short period.
No, winning the lottery — no matter how great the jackpot — does not guarantee happiness or even continued wealth.
Jesus said we should entrust our future to God and lay up spiritual treasure in heaven, where our relatives won’t try to hasten our demise in order to inherit it, it won’t be lost in a stock market crash, thieves won’t be able to steal it, it can’t be spent before we reach “retirement” age, and it will enrich our lives forever. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6: 20-21)