I heard a phrase today that I was unfamiliar with. A co-worker firmly stated to another, “I’ll bet you ten dollars to a donut.” Huh? Have you ever heard that before? I have not. So I googled it and here’s what I found: The phrase ‘Ten dollars to a donut’ comes from the phrase “Dollars to donuts” which comes from the almost forgotten terms ‘dollars-to-buttons’ and ‘dollars-to-dumplings’ which appeared in the 1880s, meaning ‘almost certain’. It was usually used in ‘I’ll bet you dollars-to-buttons/dumplings.’ They were replaced by 1890 with the more popular ‘dollars-to-donuts’ (a 1904 variation, ‘dollars-to-cobwebs,’ never became very common, perhaps because it didn’t alliterate). From “Listening to America” by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).
So how is the phrase used? Normally, when you’re betting somebody that a certain event will or won’t occur, you bet roughly the same amount in the same currency. However, in the case of “dollars to donuts”, you are so absolutely sure of an outcome in your favour (i.e. you won’t lose and have to pay up) that you’re willing to bet far more excessively than your opponent. Your opponent hopes he’ll win but knows there’s a reasonable chance he’ll lose, so he bets small or insignificantly (1 donut). But you are dead sure you’re going to win, i.e. you know you’re not going to lose, so it doesn’t matter what you bet (hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars, whatever) because you won’t have to pay it.
I’m not a gambling girl and I doubt if I would ever use such a phrase as that. Besides, there are so few things in life that you can bet on anymore. A good job used to last forever with a pension in the future. My husband Ted lost his job after twenty-three years with a company. No guarantees these days that your job will last. A house used to be a good investment. Most of us wish we could sell our homes for what we owe on them today. Friendships wane and people let you down. Things don’t always go the way we hope for in life.
The one thing I can count on for certain is that if I live a life of faith, my Lord will see me through and reward me in the end. Simple as that. Certain as that. It’s the only outcome that I know is true. God promised us “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” There are no bets or wagers involved.
Hebrews 13:6-8 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
1 Peter 4:16-18 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
I am so absolutely certain that God will reward your life of faith; I’m not even going to wager you. I could bet you a million dollars to a donut that He will give believers eternal life, but I won’t.
I can’t afford to eat all those donuts you would be paying me!