I am not much of a gambler. I get so anxious about whether I will lose my money that it takes away from the enjoyment of the game. But I do notice the point spread for the NY Giants games. And after several terrible years, they are playing so well this year that I am no longer ashamed to drink from my Giants coffee mug.
In view of the Giants’ newfound success, I found it hard to believe that they were 5 ½ point home underdogs to the Ravens last week. And there was a message from a certain legal online betting site that I had $5 of house money to play with. This meant the site would put up the money for my bet! I would not have the anxiety of having my own money riding on the game. Since I had nothing to lose, I placed the bet.
(Mike Francesca used the same expression “playing with house money” in his podcast. He applied it to the Cleveland Guardians in their recent playoff series versus the Yankees. Since no one had expected that Cleveland would even be in the playoffs, they wouldn’t face the anxiety-inducing pressure of lofty expectations.)
It looked like I’d lose my bet as the Giants fell behind by ten in the second half. Then they closed within three so I would win the bet with the Giants covering the spread. Finally, the Giants won outright. I won the bet without needing any points!
Of course, I like to see a spiritual analogy in this: There is a way in which living the Christian life is like playing with house money. First, there is nothing we can contribute to get salvation. It is a free gift that we say yes to. Second, I don’t need to be anxious that I can get un-saved if I mess up. Living with free grace, what do I have to lose?
Take the lyric from the modern hymn “In Christ Alone.”
“No guilt in life, no fear in death.
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life’s first cry, to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.”
So, as I follow Jesus’ commands, I am free from facing anxiety about whether I am doing enough to please God. The more I gain awareness of this truth, the freer I am to grow in grace living.
As it says in John 8:36, So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.