Philippians 4:8; Colossians 3:12-14
WHATEVER IS LOVELY
Phil 4:8 - Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
προσφιλής -prosphilés (pros-fee-lace’) is an adjective that means pleasing, agreeable and can sometimes be interpreted as grateful. It literally is a combination of two words pros which means extending and phileo which is a type of love or affection. It literally means worthy of personal affection.
It is often interpreted by Lovely . . . of good report. We have gone from setting our mind on things which are truth and things of righteousness to things of love. The phrase “of good report” is commonly used for “fair-sounding,” or “auspicious” and “acceptable.” It is therefore the outward expression of what is “lovely,” giving the acceptance which loveliness deserves.
In other words, there are a lot of things that are beautiful or lovely in the world but this verse indicates that they have to be accepted as lovely or of love. And who is the one who accepts them? It is not the world… the world is fickle about things that it considers lovely… accepted today and discarded tomorrow. I am not the one who should set such a standard because I am often oblivious or blind to things right under my nose. I believe that God sets the standard.
God created all of the world. And after each phase of his plan he stamped his approval on it by announcing “It is good.” And on the sixth day of creation after he created man and animals, he declared it to be “very good!” Unfortunately sin corrupted everything when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God.
This word is not used anywhere else in the Bible. But in secular writings it is often used to reflect virtues. These things that are approved by God are virtues such as kindliness, benevolence, mercy, compassion, agape love.
We see this idea manifested in Jesus. Jesus often saw something in people that was “lovely”. Such is the rich young ruler who came to Jesus to find out what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said, “One thing you lack…” Matthews account states Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect…” Jesus saw the good things in this man but he wasn’t complete… lacking just one thing. He relied more on his wealth than he did on God and he went away said because he would give up his wealth to follow Jesus. Jesus was sad too because there was something there but it wasn’t complete (Mt 19:16-22; Mk 10:17-27; Lk 18:18–30).
Jesus was always looking at the virtue in people. He saw the woman who only gave a few pence but Jesus said she gave more than anyone because she gave all she had. There was a woman form Phoenicia who touched the hem of his garment. There was a Roman official who by faith knew that Jesus could heal his servant from a distance. Over and over again, Jesus saw things in people that no one else could see. He could see the things that were lovely.
Today it is hard to spot the lovely in people because there is so much hate, and violence, and anger, and greed. So we need to put on the eyes of Christ and look at others through his eyes.
Not only that but we need to make sure we are putting on these lovely things too. Cl 3:12-14 - Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.