A current television ad suggests that your dreams can come true if you play the lottery. While there are some who have become instant millionaires by picking the right numbers, millions of others have lost money that they could not afford hoping to strike it rich.

Rather than launch an attack on the lottery and other forms of gambling I simply want to express the opinion that “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

Although there is not certainty about the origin of that phrase, one possibility is that it stems from a statement made by Henry Wallace, U.S Vice-President 1941-1945. In an article published in the Atlantic Monthly he suggested a post-WWII worldwide economic regime offering “minimum standards of food, clothing and shelter” for people throughout the world and offering the opinion: “If we can afford tremendous sums of money to win the war, we can afford to invest whatever amount it takes to win the peace”.

One journalist responded by saying, “Mr. Wallace neglects the fact that such a thing as a ‘free’ lunch never existed. Until man acquires the power of creation, someone will always have to pay for a free lunch.”

Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes are probably the most famous and most dreamed-about sweepstakes in America. They really do award amazing prizes to lucky winners on a regular basis. However, the odds are extremely small that you will be one of those winners. The estimated odds of winning a $10 million sweepstake is about one in 2 billion. That means if you entered every day, it would take you over one million years to have even odds of winning.

I believe it is true that everything has a price. I guess the question is who pays for it? The “something for nothing” mentality is all too common and not healthy.

Before you write me off as some raving maniac, let me say that I am not just talking about games of chance. I realize that there is an element of chance in all of life. Investing in the stock market or setting aside money for a rainy day all come with the hope of gain but with the risk of loss.

My concern is that we don’t always look for the easy way out. The quick fix. Henry David Thoreau warned that “The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.”  At best it leads to to disappointment and disillusionment. And failure to reach one’s potential because of the unwillingness to apply oneself and whatever resources that are available.

The Parable of the Talents in the Bible illustrates what I am attempting to say. The story tells us about three people each of whom are given a certain amount of “talents.” Not everyone has the same. Some have a little. Some have a lot. It is a story of opportunity and responsibility, investment and return, faithfulness and reward. Faithfulness is rewarded and unfaithfulness is condemned. It is a matter of responsibly using the opportunities presented 

Each one of us has been entrusted with enormous resources. Time. Energy.Abilities. Money. Influence. Opportunity. These resources are not really ours but we have been allowed to manage them. One day the Owner will call us into account. May we be found faithful in utilizing them for the benefit of humankind and the glory of God.

Jamie Jenkins