Cross Yourself in All These Things – Alma 39:9

9 Now my son, I would that ye should repent and forsake your sins, and go no more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross yourself in all these things; for except ye do this ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Oh, remember, and take it upon you, and cross yourself in these things.

Today I’ve been thinking about Alma’s admonition, which he repeats twice in this verse, to “cross yourself.” What does that mean?
  • As nearly as I can tell, the word “cross” is never used as a verb in the Bible. The word doesn’t appear at all in the Old Testament. It appears 28 times in the New Testament, always as a noun, referring either to the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified or to the cross carried by His disciples as we deny ourselves of worldly things.
  • When the word “cross” is used as a verb in the Book of Mormon, it either means to traverse (as in “cross a river”) or it means to contradict (as in a cross-examination in a court of law). (See Alma 43:40 for an example of the first type, and Alma 10:16 for an example of the second.)
  • In a Book of Mormon class I took at BYU, Hugh Nibley pointed out the meaning of the word “cross” in the hymn “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.” In that hymn, when the stranger “crosses” us, it has the effect of making us stop and reconsider our actions with a broader perspective and with nobler motivations.
Putting these ideas together, I believe that to “cross myself” means to stop myself when I may be heading down a wrong path, to question my actions and my motives, and to discipline myself to do what is right, even if it requires some sacrifice.
I made an effort today to be more thoughtful and more aware of cases where I might need to cross myself. I can’t report any specific case where it made a difference, but I found it helpful to have this principle on my mind throughout the day, and I’m grateful for this reminder from Alma.

5 thoughts on “Cross Yourself in All These Things – Alma 39:9

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  1. I think that you are completely right. In the Spanish Book of Mormon is says te refrenaras and abstente instead of cross, so it does mean to stop or restrain oneself from going down the wrong path towards sin


    1. Thank you for the insight! I appreciate the additional insight from the Spanish translation. I think “restrain” and “abstain” are both consistent with my understanding of Alma’s meaning.


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