So we’ve gotten a look at ‘lovely’ ~ at the Philippians 4:8 thoughts to dwell upon. Sometimes to more fully understand, it’s helpful to look at the opposite – what it doesn’t mean.
One of the descriptions we looked at said that thoughts that are lovely “promote peace.” It goes on to talk about its opposite: “rather than conflict.” Hmmmm… very interesting for our goal here in delighting in conflict done well!
Another description said that lovely thoughts “serve to cultivate and increase love, friendship, and amity among men; and which things also are grateful to God and lovely in his sight.” It goes on to say “in opposition to all contention, strife, wrath, and hatred.”
The description of lovely as ‘that which calls forth love’ sandwiches its opposite:
Winsome is the best translation of all. The Greek is prosphile, and it might be paraphrased as that which calls forth love. There are those whose minds are so set on vengeance and punishment that they call forth bitterness and fear in others. There are those whose minds are so set on criticism and rebuke that they call forth resentment in others. The mind of the Christian is set on the lovely things—kindness, sympathy, forbearance—so he is a winsome person, whom to see is to love.
So setting our minds on thoughts that are lovely is the opposite of setting our minds on criticism. If our minds are in the mode of being critical towards another, then our minds are not dwelling on the lovely.
Now does this mean that we can’t ever think a critical thought? Of course not. And I’ll give you a trick about that next time. Here, the distinction is about those whose minds are set on criticism. You know, when you’re in that rut of critical thought – when you see a person, and all that comes to mind are the things about them that annoy you. When your disposition and countenance change. When that critical nature negatively impacts others.
So lovely thoughts are those not set on criticism. They are not set on rebuke. They are not set on punishment or vengeance. They do not call forth bitterness or resentment in others. They do not promote conflict. They do not cultivate contention or strife. They do not increase hatred.
Instead, lovely thoughts are those which are grateful to God. They are lovely in His sight. They call forth love in others. They inspire love.
What lovely thoughts is your mind dwelling on?