Home Cross of Gold by Michael W. Smith

Cross of Gold by Michael W. Smith

About the Song

Michael W. Smith’s 1992 album Change Your World has a lot of good songs on it, but one of my favorites has always been “Cross of Gold.”

It is particularly applicable this time of year—after Resurrection Day—pertaining to those of us who proclaim to be followers of Jesus.

“Cross of Gold” is a confrontational song in which the singer addresses individuals who proudly wear a cross around their necks but who live for themselves and their own agendas instead of Christ’s.

Michael W. Smith's *Change your World* Album Cover

The singer is observing that these individuals are putting on an outward display of following Christ by wearing a cross necklace, but the outward appearance does not penetrate into their actions. In fact, their actions are often in direct opposition to Christlike behavior—bordering on hypocrisy.

Therefore, the singer questions why these individuals choose to wear these crosses? Is it because they think it’s cool and are trying to impress certain people? Are they trying to be a part of a “Christianity club”? Is it just something fancy to wear to complement their outfits? Do they think wearing a cross will give them a free pass into heaven?

None of these are valid reasons for wearing a cross. As the singer states, a cross should be “[a] symbol of love living in you.” In other words, our lives should be such a reflection of Jesus that our actions themselves prove Who we serve and belong to. Seeing a cross around our necks should simply confirm to others what is already obvious from our behavior.

The music does an excellent job of complementing the lyrics, bringing a direct, confrontational (but not condemning) tone with the help of hard-hitting drums, guitars, and synthesizers. (Not to mention some pretty cool guitar slides and guitar solos!)

Life Application

As previously stated, it is confusing to both believers and non-believers alike when we portray two different lifestyles—one for Christ and one for ourselves.

When we try to live on both sides of the fence, we can both mislead others who try to follow our (poor) example and also turn others who see through our hypocrisy away from faith in Jesus. I am certain that none of us want to initiate either of these consequences!

To address one of my earlier comments, wearing a cross does not give us a free pass into heaven. The cross is simply a symbol of the tremendous sacrifice Jesus made for us in order to give us access to heaven through His death and resurrection.

It is only when we choose to accept Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf and commit to living for Him that we can have confidence that we are guaranteed eternity with Him in heaven:

But to all who did receive [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

(John 1:12, English Standard Version [ESV])

[Jesus said,] “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

(John 14:2 ESV)

Jesus tells us in Matthew how our actions identify what is in our hearts. He specifically addresses false prophets, but the principle applies to all of us:

“Watch out for false prophets…. By their fruit you will recognize them…. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit…. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

(Matthew 7:15, 16, 18, and 21, New International Version)

Unfortunately, there are many who proclaim to honor God with their lips (or in our current song’s case, their jewelry), but whose hearts are far from Him (Matthew 15:8).

None of us has attained perfection—we all have things we need to work on. Let us each take some time to examine our own hearts and actions. Do we do what we do for Jesus because those actions flow naturally from our love for Him and a desire to do His will? Do we have a living relationship with Him? Or are we trying to participate in some sort of “Christian popularity contest”?

Why do we wear our “cross of gold”?

As Smith states in the bridge of his song, “For some, it’s simply something to wear around your neck, just a chain.” He goes on to boldly declare, “It means a lot more than that to me.”

What does the cross mean to you?


What do you think of the song “Cross of Gold”? And what does the cross mean to you? I’d love to know!

(US Purchases)

Michael W. Smith's *Change your World* Album Cover

Downloads and/or physical copies may also be available worldwide from your favorite online music store, at your local bookstore or thrift shop, or through your favorite online marketplace.

Closing Note

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Signing off until next week –

Rocking for Jesus with you!

Amanda Renée

(The author's permissions for copying/quoting this article are found in the disclaimer.)