Whatever Is Lovely – Pleasing, Satisfying, & Agreeable

March 20th, 2024 – Wednesday – Late Afternoon/Early Evening

“Finally, brethren…whatever is lovely…” ~Philippians 4:8a,e
The layer of thought-filtration we turn our attention to today (whatever is lovely) is a bit more ambiguous than the four mentioned previously (true, noble, right, and pure). The reason for this ambiguity is due, at least in part, to the fact that the particular Greek word translated “lovely” is only used once in Scripture, and that is right here in Philippians. It is thought that the word is a combination of two other Greek words that have the general meanings of “to the advantage of, at, near, by, to, towards, with, with regard to” and “to love, to show signs of love, to be fond of doing, etc.”.
Hence, when these definitions are put together, we end up with the words “lovely” and “pleasing” – everything we allow our minds to dwell on must pass the litmus test of being lovely and pleasing. Now, before we get some fluffy idea that only consists of beautiful flowers and sweet sayings, remember that what is lovely is more than just an external beauty or emotional appeal. Let us turn to Noah Webster for some possibly helpful understanding of “lovely” and “pleasing”: Lovely – “Amiable; that may excite love; possessing qualities which may invite affection.” (Amiable – “Lovely; worth of love; deserving of affection…”) Pleasing – “Giving pleasure or satisfaction; agreeable to the senses or to the mind; as a pleasing prospect; a pleasing reflection; pleasing manners.”
Thus, perhaps the best way to understand this command in this context is to think of “whatever is lovely” as that which invites our love and affection, but also that which gives satisfaction and true pleasure to the soul. It is what God has created to be agreeable and pleasing to the mind, not what is abhorrent, rude, ugly, dirty, or repulsive. (This use of the word “lovely” is, perhaps, also seen back in Psalm 84:1: “How lovely are Your dwelling places, O LORD of hosts!”)
So, how do we dwell on that which is “lovely”? Well, for starters, we must stick to the above definition of “what God has created to be agreeable and pleasing to the mind” – not some distortion that wouldn’t even pass the first four levels (that which is true, noble, right, and pure) of correct thinking. Perhaps a part of this “sticking to” is making sure that what we are being satiated and satisfied by in our hearts and minds is actually and truly in line with the character and nature of God. If we are typically satisfied by feasting on garbage, it is unlikely that we will be content to filter that garbage out of our thinking.
Beloved, let us dig deeply into the character and nature of God and allow Him to do a deep-clean of our thoughts, our desires, and our emotions. Let us choose to dwell on that which He has made truly lovely and pleasing – even if we have to choke it down our mental throats to start; He will change our desires as we set our desires on Him and His lovely goodness (Praise the Lord!). Don’t be robbed of true satisfaction and pleasure by that which is a counterfeit thief; dwell on what is lovely.