Jesus as Gambler Man on train from Unsplash.com

Jesus as ‘The Gambler’

For a reason I can only attribute to the Holy Spirit, “The Gambler” made known by Kenny Rogers in 1978, was incessantly streaming through my head.  I was thinking about how I need to start using email to start a Christian community with my brand, and then, pop, the Gambler began playing.  As I was singing it, I could only think of it as having a sit-down with Jesus himself as the Gambler. Yes, I know Jesus would not likely drink hard liquor, smoke cigarettes or gamble … well maybe for souls. Let’s see.

Two strangers meet “on a train bound for nowhere,” meaning God can find you anywhere.  Even though He is always there, He may not be noticeable through the noise of your life until you have nothing left.  The Gambler (Jesus) notices a lost soul who is “out of aces.”  He stares out into the darkness with the Lost Soul and shares that he makes a living of reading people’s faces.  He knows what they are about by the look in their eyes with the life they are dealt.  Jesus knows who we are, what we are going through and literally dies to help us through our troubles.

Cover of Kenny Roger's The Gambler album
Cover of Kenny Roger’s ‘The Gambler’ album.

Last drink

The Gambler tells his new friend that for giving up his way of life or all that he has left — the last swallow of whiskey — he’ll show him the way.  The Lost Soul in this song, giving away his last drink, is all ears to the one who drinks/takes his sin.  He takes away our sin so we can be free from the guilt and shame of sin.   Through Him, we can restart our lives, follow Him and live a fulfilling life.

Matthew 16:25-26 NLT— If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Jesus love is for EVERYONE

Like the Gambler — Jesus, in this scenario — Christians put ourselves out there and love people, without knowing the reactions or the results.  You win some, you lose some — “every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser.”  Jesus put Himself out there for EVERYONE — those people who would irritate you and me — all the while, knowing his horrific fate, He still went to the cross because He loved us all so much.  From that, He earned his seat at the right hand of Our Father.  Even as He was being mocked and beaten, Jesus showed His undying love by rooting for us, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34a NLT).

Know your cards

The Gambler continues, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy, you gotta play it right.”  “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, (know the proper time to tell people about God, know when to show them) know when to walk away (know when you need to let God do the work), know when to run.”  In the Bible, Jesus tells his disciples to walk away, “If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.”  — Matthew 10:14 NLT

The Gambler continues his advice with not to worry about keeping count of the souls you lose and the souls you save, “They’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing is done” — when Jesus comes to collect the saved.  For now, just keep living for Jesus and sharing the Gospel without worrying about who’s saved and who isn’t.  If you get hung up on counting the winnings — or saved — you waste time that you could have been saving more.

Romans 5:8
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He broke even

And finally, as the Gambler who was there to save the Lost Soul’s life came to the end of his advice, his work was done and he died.  The lyrics say, “He broke even.”  His perfect life was sacrificed for the masses of sinners, even this last one.  For that, Jesus sits next to His Father in heaven, yet another real life example of what is awaiting us should we choose to follow His lead.  In that, the Lost Soul found his ACE — his new loving way of life — something worth hanging on to.

To me, the lyrics in the Gambler are spot on for Jesus.  And, knowing when to hold ’em and fold ’em can be linked to the Holy Spirit — a gift Jesus gave us to guide us.  However, according to songfacts.com (https://www.songfacts.com/facts/kenny-rogers/the-gambler), songwriter Don Schlitz wrote this anthem about his earthly father. Check out the article, it’s quite interesting.  Shel Silverstein is even involved the song’s emergence.

A good lyricist can stir up so much emotion and provoke thought. I am thankful for the talent God has given them. Even though Schiltz did not intend for this song to be about Jesus, I see it clearly. It’s so beautiful and fulfilling how God puts his Message into our world just as He says He does:

Psalm 19:1-2 NLT — The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known.

Romans 1:20 NLT — For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

So, gamble on some people!  Save some lives!  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Videos
— Listen to Don Schlitz sing his own song, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-wRJ1PBx54
— And this is Kenny’s version, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hx4gdlfamo

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Leigh An Coplin has been a Christian since she can remember and continues to grow in her love for God every day.  With God as her guide, she started Livin’ Light, a Christian apparel business and online resource.  She has a B.A. in Journalism from Texas Tech University and has worked at the Lee’s Summit Journal, Pacific Business News and The Honolulu Advertiser.  Leigh An lives in the greater Orlando area.