Whatever Is Lovely – Think About These Things
When looking at lovely things in Philippians 4:8, we must ask, whatever is lovely?
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.Philippians 4:8 NLT
Have you noticed that what I think is lovely you may not think is lovely? Why is that lovely to you? Why is it not lovely to me?
When Paul wrote to the believers at Philippi, he taught them to embrace the truth that would affect every area of their lives. God’s truth enables us to find Christ relevant to every area of life. As followers of Christ, our thoughts should overflow from a God-centered mind, a Christ-centered heart, and a Holy Spirit-centered life.
It’s All Greek to Me!
The Greek word προσφιλής, [prosphiles /pros·fee·lace/] translated lovely, is exclusively used in Philippians 4:8. This term occurs only here in the New Testament. It is, however, not uncommon with classical writers, and signifies what is dear to any one, or has in it such a quality as engages affection—lovely as exciting love. 1
Other commentators make these points about the Greek word προσφιλής [prosphiles /pros·fee·lace/]:
- reference to the estimation of men… designating what is valuable and dear to the heart of man. 2
- not beautiful, but pleasing, lovable; whatsoever things would attract the love of holy souls. 3
- It seems to mean “pleasing,” “amiable,” “congenial” or “pleasant.” This is another call for believers to live attractive lives. 4
The term προσφιλής conveys sentiments of both the ungodly and of the godly sort. The issue might be confusing if we simply try to make the term mean something carnal over something Christian or vice versa. Yet an understanding of the term can best be grasped as προσφιλής conveys the state of soul present within an individual as they attempt to define whatever is lovely. Therefore, the essence of what is deemed lovely reveals the nature of the heart.
Your Heart Reveals the Truth
The idea of προσφιλής draws from the content of the soul to assign a perceived reality of what is lovely. Thus for the Christian and non-Christians, προσφιλής may take on very different definitions. However, the child of God is to delimit προσφιλής as Christ would, looking beyond human sentimentality and carnal desires to define value as Christ Jesus would. Ascribing to a thing the value God would have us to elicits the prescribed action that would work the will of our Heavenly Father.
The godly expression and the ungodly definition of what is lovely will share no commonality for “what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Yet Paul calls the godly mind to draw upon the reality of a Christian heart to evaluate whatever is lovely. What is deemed attractive to the soul given our orientation to God? A presentation of whatever is lovely reveals the glory of what or who we worship.
That which possesses the qualities of God calls us to see and think about whatever is lovely. Within it, we find a communion of soul and spirit leading to that which “gives pleasure and satisfaction” (Logos Bible Sense). It is that which attracts us to a particular type of unity and fellowship. Discerning whatever is lovely lays the foundation for all our likes and dislikes. The truth is then made evident, for indeed, what is deemed lovely by our estimation reveals the true nature of our hearts.
Prayer Pattern to Promote Lovely Thoughts
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!Psalm 139:23–24 ESV
This blog post is part of a series on Philippians 4:8. Dig into each description to determine how to think about these things from God’s perspective.
- Think About These Things from God’s Perspective
- Whatever Is True – Think About These Things
- Whatever Is Honorable – Think About These Things
- Whatever Is Right – Think About These Things
- Whatever Is Pure – Think About These Things
- Whatever Is Admirable – Think About These Things
- Whatever Is Excellent – Think About These Things
- Whatever Is Praiseworthy – Think About These Things
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1 John Eadie, A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, ed. W. Young, Second Edition (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1884), 255.
2 John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Philippians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 70.
3 H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Philippians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 157.
4 Robert James Utley, Paul Bound, the Gospel Unbound: Letters from Prison (Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon, Then Later, Philippians), vol. Volume 8, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International, 1997), 203.