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How to spend $550 million Powerball jackpot

A worker pastes an updated Powerball sign up in New York, November 28, 2012  (Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri)Did you miss out on last night's Powerball jackpot of $550 million?  You're not alone—the odds of winning were one in 175 million.  You are 25 times more likely to win an Academy Award.  In fact, a mathematics professor says you were three times more likely to die from a falling coconut, seven times more likely to die from fireworks, and "way more likely to die from flesh-eating bacteria" (there's an inspirational thought to begin your day).

Suppose you learned last night that you had won $550 million—what would you do with your winnings?  What should you do?  The Bible has much to say on the subject.  It contains 500 verses on prayer, but more than 2,000 on money and possessions.  Here are some biblical questions for handing money, no matter how much—or little—you have.

First, do you expect money to make you happy?  Scripture warns that "people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction" (1 Timothy 6:9).  Why?  Because "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (v. 10).  Meet one: William Post III won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1998.  Within three months, he was $500,000 in debt (buying a restaurant and airplane didn't help); his brother was arrested for hiring a hit man to kill him.  He concluded, "I was much happier when I was broke."

Second, are you using temporal resources for eternal purposes?  King Solomon was the wealthiest man in the world (2 Chronicles 9:22), worth $58 billion in today's currency.  Note his priorities: he built God's temple before he built his palace.  Job was the wealthiest man in his society (Job 1:3) and one of the godliest (v. 1).  God selected "a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph" to bury the body of his beloved Son (Matthew 27:57-58).  He used Barnabas, a wealthy landowner (Acts 4:36-37), to help the church and partner with Paul.  Your money will soon belong to others, but what you do with it will shape your eternal legacy.

Third, are you content with what you have?  Paul told us that "godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6).  "Contentment" translates autarkeia, an inner peace which external circumstances cannot alter.  Hebrews 13:5 instructs us to "keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have."  When you surrender fully to God as your King, your possessions are his and his joy is yours.

Take a moment to ask yourself: what would I do if I won last night's lottery?  Your answers will tell you something about your life priorities.  One woman answered the question this way: "Pay off my home.  Take care of my children, college trust funds for the grandkids.  Do all of the repairs on my home that are needed but can't afford.  Then give some to charity.  And finally allow my husband to retire.  But I would still keep my teenie tiny house.  Don't need much to be grateful."

Do you?



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