Think These Things – Whatever is Lovely
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.Phil. 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 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. (A Commentary on The Greek New Testament)
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. (A Commentary on The Holy Scriptures – Philippians)
- not beautiful, but pleasing, lovable; whatsoever things would attract the love of holy souls. (Pulpit Commentary)
- It seems to mean “pleasing,” “amiable,” “congenial” or “pleasant.” This is another call for believers to live attractive lives. (PBGU: Letters from Prison – Philippians)
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 to mean something carnal over something Christian or vice versa. Yet an understanding of the term can best be grasp as προσφιλής simply 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 simply draws from the content of the soul to assign a perceived reality what is lovely. Thus for the Christian and non-Christian 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 Cor. 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 on 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 surely what is deemed to be lovely by our estimation reveals the true nature of our hearts.
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!Ps. 139:23–24 ESV
This blog post is part of a series on Philippians 4:8 – Think These Things: Whatever is True , Whatever is Honorable, Whatever is Right, Whatever is Pure, Whatever is Lovely, Whatever is Admirable, Whatever is Excellent, and Whatever is Praiseworthy.
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