Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
As a quick reminder, the only way we will ever dwell, think, and meditate upon what is in this list is to allow the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, [to] guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
We must see Philippians 4:8 within the context of verse seven. I can imitate this list for a while but it is not sustainable for I am not capable or have enough strength to think this way in my own power. This list is not something I can pull off in my own ability and resource, I must have the living God, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, living within my life and bringing about this new reality: a mind that is focused and stayed upon Jesus. I must live a continual life of surrender and dependency upon His ability, strength, and resource.
… is lovely
When I hear the word “lovely” it brings up images of bunny rabbits, sunflowers, and skipping through meadows. It is often defined as gracious, generous, patient, winsome, or charming in a childlike or naive way. It contains the idea of innocence and sweetness. This is the word that should make you smile when you read through the list of “whatevers.”
The Greek word for “lovely” is prosphiles which is made up of two Greek words. One is the word for “toward” the other is the word “love” (phileo). A good translation would be to “that which pushes you toward love” or “that which calls forth love.”
This word is often used in our culture today to push people toward love and relationship, as in “Your eyes are so lovely. Care for a date?” Okay that might be a bit dramatic, but you get the point. And while that is a fair understanding, in the context of our passage, it is not referring to romance but God’s heart.
Each of the “whatevers” in our passage is emphasizing a focus on Jesus—allowing Him to be the boundary of our hearts and minds. To think upon that which is lovely, is to think upon things that push us toward God’s heart and nature. I am to think upon what the Bible says is pleasing, attractive, amiable. My mind is to be saturated with His tone, heart, character, and nature. Whatever I allow in my mind should cause me to want Him more and fall in love with Him at a deeper level.
When I spend time with a good Christian friend, I can’t help but see Jesus. Whenever we have a conversation I always leave wanting more of Jesus. There is a burning within my heart that desires to go spend time with the King of kings. This is should be the case for whatever enters our mind. Anything we allow to enter our mind should press us harder and deeper into Jesus.
Measure your life. In the past week have the things that have occupied your mind, the details you have dwelt upon, have they pressed you closer to Christ? Would those things be considered pleasing, attractive, and amiable according to Scripture? Have you fallen more in love with Him because of what you’ve dwelt upon?
… is of good report
The only time the word “good report” shows up in the New Testament is here in our passage. It can be translated “highly regarded, gracious, well thought of, or speaking favorably.” The word comes from the pagan culture where a moment of silence was taken before they offered a sacrifice to the gods. That moment of holy silence was called “good report.” The idea is that what is spoken before a sacrifice is what the gods would hear.
Paul is saying that our minds are to be of “holy silence,” or in other words, we are to only think upon the things that are fit for God to hear. The words on our lips and the thoughts in our mind should be pleasing and acceptable for God to hear.
This should be obvious but if Jesus lives within us through the indwelling Holy Spirit, then He goes with us wherever we go. He is not some God we pray to in the morning and lock in a prayer closet, He participates with us in everything we do throughout the day. Therefore, anything I do, say, or think, God hears it.
When we tell the latest joke, God hears it. When we watch the latest movie, God is there watching it with us. But God’s desire actually goes beyond mere listening. His desire for me is that He would be the source of all I do, say, and think as I live in dependency upon Him. This does not mean inactivity, it means a change of resource. He wants to be my strength, victory, focus, hope, peace, attitude, the thing my mind dwells upon. In short, Jesus wants to be my life.
Is my mind dwelling upon whatever is highly regarded? Is it fixed upon the loftiest themes? Would I be honored and willing to share my thoughts with the people around me because there is nothing shameful? If someone were to peak into my thought life at any point of the day would they see the Gospel or would they see selfishness, perverseness, pride, arrogance, or anything else that is not Jesus? If I am unwilling for others to see my mind, do I not realize that God hears my every thought? Is He not more important and valued than the people around me?
If my mind is dwelling upon whatever is of good report, if it is pleasing for God to hear, if He is the guard about my mind, and the source of my life, then should I not be willing for the world to look within my mind (if it were possible) any moment of the day? For if my thought life was of good report, they would only see Jesus.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.
Check out the other articles in this series: