Caught Up in Yourself


Our real trouble comes when we begin to believe that either we are much better than the people around us, or that our place in God’s family has been deserved by our own efforts.

DAVID: I love the song but I don't know if it is about being self absorbed or lacking confidence in your spirit, or about both! I pushed hard for the song to be on the record but I can't tell you what it's really about! I guess Mac would be the best one to let us into the secret of “Caught Up in Yourself.”

MAC: This song is different to anything else on the record. It’s more of a gentle rebuke from one friend sharing to another friend about not getting caught up in yourself. I know for us as a band, being successful could be a source of pride, especially when we have so many fans cheering for us each night and calling out our names. So this song is a warning and a rebuke. We don’t do a lot of songs like this, but there is definitely a place for it.

There is a line that says ‘your so good, but you’ll never be good enough’ so it’s a reminder also of grace, that we can’t do it on our own but we have to have God’s grace and strength for any accomplishments that we achieve. We’ve learned this with Third Day. If we had only tasted a small amount of success we would have been thankful for it, but I guess we would have also said to ourselves ‘man, we’re pretty good!’ but because our success has been so great we’ve recognized that it ‘s been so much more than we could have ever accomplished on our own. It’s definitely God doing this and really making it happen.

The Self-Obsessed World

We live in a world where the norm is to be caught up in ourselves. Inflated self-importance is commonplace, the desire to be famous for being famous is seen on reality TV shows, and most people place themselves firmly in the center of their own little world. At best we’ll go through life being a big star in a little story, always chasing fulfillment and never quite grasping it. Yet if we really want to accomplish something of lasting value and purpose in our lives, then we have to learn to step out of our own lives into something much bigger. True Christian living means we will dare to step into God’s BIG story.

HIS story or history as we more commonly know it. When Jesus calls His disciples to deny themselves daily and to take up their cross and follow Him, this is the antidote for each of us to avoid being caught up in ourselves. The same can be said of Jesus words when He says the first shall be last and the last shall be first and when he says that the proud shall be humbled and the humbled shall be honored. Sadly, it’s possible to be a Christian and still to be absolutely self-obsessed—to be soundly converted but still caught up in yourself. It’s the person who takes conversion that step further into real life discipleship who learns what it means to be caught up in Jesus and not themselves. In the Message translation Eugene Petersen describes Jesus saying this: ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am.’ (Matthew 6:24, The Message)

In other words, there’s only one I AM—and it’s not you!

The person caught up in themselves is more reliant on self-revelation than on any dependence on the guidance and Lordship of Christ. 

Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead (Philippians 2:3, The Message)


Jesus has an encounter with a bunch of people who different translations of the Bible describe as being ‘confident of their own righteousness’, ‘having great self-confidence and scorning everyone else’, and ‘complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance.’ In order to shake them from their smugness Jesus tells them a parable about two men with very different attitudes—one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.

Read the details in Luke 18:9-14

The important difference between the Pharisee and the tax collector was their approach to God. Ultimately, the way someone relates to God is reflected in all aspects of their life. Now although the Bible encourages us to boldly approach the throne of God, the way of doing so is by complete confidence and faith not in ourselves but in Jesus- He is our righteousness. In the parable, we read that the Pharisee approached God in prayer by listing a whole stream of reasons to justify how great he was in himself. Self-centered pride was his foundation—a man really caught up in himself. The tax collector, however, had a humble spirit and simply asked for mercy because of his sin. Jesus sums the parable up by saying that it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who went home in a right relationship with God, and that humility, not pride, was the key.

Two important points should be remembered about this parable. Firstly, the listeners were people who suffered from pride and arrogance. Secondly, it’s a story about two people approaching God and trying to become righteous. These points remind us that we needn’t go through the whole of our Christian journey in a guilty state of being a miserable sinner—Christ has made us new, has justified us and made us righteous before a holy God so we can walk in confidence and as children of God. Once Jesus has dealt with our separation from God it’s dealt with forever-although we need to humbly confess any sin as soon as we’ve fallen into it. Our real trouble comes when we begin to believe that either we are much better than the people around us, or that our place in God’s family has been deserved by our own efforts.

It’s likely that if you are completely honest with yourself right now you will recognize some of your own character either in the Pharisee or the tax collector. You may even see elements of both in your own attitudes, but you can pray to have more of a humble attitude to God and to others rather than being caught up in yourself.

"If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me" (Matthew 10:39, The Message).

If you want a great way to avoid being caught up in yourself then begin to serve the Lord and serve others rather than serving yourself.

Practical care for others in the name of Jesus—be it in church, at work, in the community, or on the mission field, helps you find the real you. You’ll be closer to God, more aware of the needs of the world around you, and more at peace with yourself when you begin to serve.

Old School Third Day—Listen to ‘How Do You Know’ from Wherever You Are.

Written by Pastor Nigel James 

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