Think on These Things – Lovely
Philippians 4:8 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
In our meditation for today we come to the fifth thing on which we are to think – that which is lovely. Lovely things are those things that draw us to them due to their beauty and attractiveness. Webster’s online dictionary defines beauty as “delightful for beauty, harmony, or grace” and “eliciting love by moral or ideal worth”. The Greek word prosphileo is a hapax, occurring only here in the New Testament, and is a compound word from pros (towards) and phileo (to love). Lovely things draw us to them due to their attractiveness, beauty, and harmony.
Now compare that to most of the things we are bombarded with today. We have already discussed how our modern entertainment industry caters to everything that is the opposite of what we find in Philippians 4:8. Movies and entertainment that uplift us and focus our attention on that which is good are becoming rarer – most all of the popular television programs today should be off limits to anyone who desires to think on good things.
So, let’s talk about our phrase for today, that which is lovely. When I think of lovely things, I picture a beautiful sunset or sunrise, a garden on a warm spring day, a beautiful picture, or the wonders of nature on a hike. I think of virtuous activities, such as the care of parents for their children, loving other people, and treating people with dignity and respect.
But that is not what most people in our culture pursue. Instead, they pursue those things that are unlovely – and unlovely things are all around us. Most of the entertainment industry is focused on unlovely things, and it seems the more unlovely they can make it, the more popular it is.
As an example, peruse the most popular video games on the market today. In an article in Newsweek dated August 3, 2021, Peter Stieglbauer of the gaming company PolyReality lists his top five which are Grand Theft Auto, World of Warcraft, Half-Life, Call of Duty and Red Dead Redemption 2.
Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is a game in which you roam a fictitious city stealing cars, engage in numerous criminal activities, and from what I understand there is even a story arc in which you can engage in liaisons with prostitutes. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game in which one controls a western outlaw battling other criminals and sheriffs and is known for its overly graphic depictions of violence. If you kill someone in the game, you can come back later and observe the decay of their dead body as it is scavenged by desert creatures. You can even repeatedly shoot a dead body blowing off appendages. Call of Duty is a first-person shooter game in which you engage in defending against an invasion and is full of violence and graphic kills.
But the most graphic violence award goes to Mortal Kombat. Mortal Kombat is an extremely violent game in which two combatants fight to the death. A quick look at some of the “kills” online show some of the most violent, bloody, and graphic violence one can imagine. Opponents are blown apart, their bodies exploding in graphic detail. Disemboweling, decapitations, appendages being ripped off, and skinning alive are just some of the ways in which you can kill your opponent. The more gruesome the death, the more entertaining it is.
In fact, a quick inventory of the most popular video games shows that most of them glorify criminal activities, include graphic violence, and cater to the basest lusts of the unregenerate. I would suggest this is anything but lovely.
So how can we think on lovely things? I would suggest we stop filling our minds with that which is unlovely. Turn off the television shows that cater to every vice condemned in the New Testament. Delete the video games that glorify violence, murder, death, and immorality. Stop filling your mind with the constant negativity of our modern media outlets. And instead, focus on that which is attractive, beautiful, and lovely.
Finally, brethren…whatsoever is lovely…think on these things.