Hey Baby Let’s Go to Vegas
I have been waiting for the movie 21 to come out at theaters ever since I heard they were making a movie about the MIT Blackjack team. The movie is good but only took a handful of truths (the students were from MIT and there is an art of math to winning) and Hollywood took over. The History Channel did a documentary on the real MIT teams and it is amazing to see how these gifted students worked.
While watching anything I try to look for spiritual cross overs and this story is loaded with them. They had a series of rules and charts to guide them in playing the game. If they followed the rules they had a great chance at winning but if not they would loose big. They were also told three principles to help them. #1 Never get caught up in the emotion of the casino. While playing the game it is easy to get caught up in the emotion and excitement of winning, people crowding around you, and the whole atmosphere. They knew what to do and when to do it, but if they ever let their emotions get the best of them they would make poor decisions. How many times have we let our emotions get the best of us and we end up making poor decisions. We get angry and say things we know we shouldn’t. We buy something we know we don’t need or can afford. We make a rash choice and regret it later. We agree to something only to regret it later. We do something that violates our values or ethics because we just got swept up in our emotions. Jesus rode into Jerusalem with the crowds shouting Hosanna and then a few days later the crowds cry crucify him. I am sure many just got swept away in the emotion of the moment and later realized what they did.
The second thing is to never give into the temptations around them. They were not allowed to drink, party, etc. They had to remain focused at all times. They couldn’t give into the temptation to make more money and not follow the charts and the rules. It is hard not to fall into temptation. We may want to discount the truth, take shortcuts that cost us in the end, not work at some relationships, and the list goes on and on. Temptation is a reality for all of us, including Jesus, but if we give in (and we will) it can be devastating.
The last thing they were told is to never trust themselves over the system. These guys were the best and brightest. They were MIT students and many were straight A students. It would be east to think that they could know what to do and forget the rules. Paul tells us to be careful and not become too prideful because our temptations are the same as other people and they fell so why do we think we will be the exception (1 Cor. 10:12-13)? We have to be careful not to think that we can do things that we have seen lead to others demise because we have some special gift, knowledge, or ability. It is easy to think that just because others got addicted to pornography, had an affair while counseling, burned out, over scheduled, didn’t spend time with their family, etc.. but we want. We know better, have some skill that they didn’t.
Did you know that if you bet a $1,000 on every NFL football game and only picked the favorite that you could make $60,000 a year? This has been true for 18 of the last 22 seasons. You know why Vegas always wins. People get caught up in the emotion of picking their team and loose. The temptation to pick the underdog and beat the odds to make great amounts of money cost them. Someone always believes they know something Vegas doesn’t and their pride or arrogance causes them to lose.
The first MIT Blackjack team made 1 million dollars and they also lost 1 million dollars. The second team made 4 million dollars. Everyone else goes to Vegas and looses because they can’t play by rules. Many people in ministry and in life lose because we forget these same three simple rules: Don’t let your emotions control you, Don’t give into temptation to make unwise choices, and Don’t get prideful thinking you are the exception.