One Saturday afternoon, a group of teenagers gathered in a cafeteria to ask one another some hard questions based on Philippians 2:3-4. Some of the difficult queries included: On a scale of 1 to 10, how selfish are you? How often do you take an interest in others too? Would someone describe you as humble or proud? Why?

As I sat and listened intently, it was encouraging to hear group members answering the questions as honestly as possible. They noticed that Philippians 2:3-4 didn’t contain suggestions; they were imperatives: “Don’t be selfish.” “Don’t try to impress others.” “Be humble.” “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

The group agreed that it’s difficult to live out these commands. It’s easy to acknowledge our shortcomings, but it is hard to change, or—for that matter—desire to change. As one teen uttered, “Selfishness is in my blood.”

The desire to put off our sin nature and put on Jesus’ nature can only come from one source—God Himself. The apostle Paul posed these questions: “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit?” (Philippians 2:1). To paraphrase, Paul asked: Are you experiencing the wonder of being God’s child? Are your hearts being comforted by His love? Are you experiencing the Spirit’s help? If yes, then obey God’s commands.

And Philippians 2:2-4 is a great reminder for us every day: “Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish.”

Yes, God is the reason for us to change, and only He can change us.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Joshua 3:1-17