Back in the early 2000s this was a popular mantra of our society and I would even venture to say that there is still a remnant of this mindset and attitude in our society today. The phrase “get rich or die tryin’” was made popular by an artist named Curtis Jackson III—better known as 50 Cent—when he released his music album in 2003 and then a movie in 2005 with the same title, “Get Rich or Die Tryin.’”
Unfortunately this desire to obtain material wealth has found its way into the church. Many of the Tele-evangelist and prosperity preachers have perpetuated this desire by teaching that, if you come to Jesus, He will bless you with material and financial riches. However, is this what Jesus Himself really taught? And does the Bible even teach this at all?
Jesus once said of Himself, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matt.8:20). Jesus was saying that He Himself was living on this earth without the material or financial wealth that the prosperity preachers proclaim Jesus wants you to have. But Jesus even goes as far as to say that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25). Why did Jesus say that?
Jesus understood the danger of desiring to be rich, because “those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Tim.6:9). And it is this craving for wealth that causes some people to wander away from the faith and pierce themselves with many pangs. And I believe that is why Jesus could ask what it profits a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul.
But let me be clear—I am not saying, nor do I believe, it is a sin or sinful to have or to earn a lot of money. I am not promoting a theology of poverty, for God Himself is the one who provides the power to get wealth (Deut.8:18). But I do believe there is biblical warrant to say that desiring to keep a lot of money or to make for yourself “bigger barns,” so to speak (Luke 12:16-21), is where the danger lies and where we get ourselves into trouble.
So as Christians how are we to truly and rightly view finances in a society that says “Get rich or die tryin’”? As believers we are told that we are no long citizens of this world, but that our citizenship is of a heavenly kingdom because of our union with Christ. And since our permanent or eternal home is not this world, God never promises us that we will have riches in this world; but God does promise that “the light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor.4:17-18). So as God’s children we can live knowing that God will supply all our needs according to his glorious riches that are in Christ Jesus (Phil.4:19). And since our eternal resting place is not this world, let us be a people who have an eternal perspective by keeping our eyes on Jesus, who is our ultimate prize possession and in whom all the fullness of riches dwell.