Philippians 4:8 - Thinking Things That Are Lovely

March 16, 1996 Philippians 4:8

Today we're returning to our study of Phil. 4:8 and how the believer
should be a good steward of his or her mind.  God gives us several
things we are to "put on" in our thinking which will help us become
more like our Lord Jesus Christ.

remember, so far we've studied the first four criteria:

    1) whatever is true...

          - as opposed to that which is false

          - whatsoever things are true, as opposed to that which is
            disconnected from reality.

    2) whatever is honorable...

          - as opposed to that which is frivolous.

    3) whatever is right (or just)

          - as opposed to that which is unrighteous, or not in
            conformity to God's will and standard.

    4) whatever is pure

          - as opposed to stained, dirty, immoral, or set apart to
            ungodliness instead of set apart to God.

          - we need to be constantly evaluating our thinking in light
            of the issue of purity.

Today we're looking at the fifth criterion in our thinking:

                  "Thinking Things That Are Lovely"

READ Phil. 4:8 NASB "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is
honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything
worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."

-  Before we look at this fifth criterion, let me say one thing about
   the last clause, "let your mind dwell on these things."

   "Let your mind dwell" is an imperative or a COMMAND in the
   original language.  This is not an option.

    The word is a form of logizomai (LAH-GIZ-AH-MY), from where we get
    our word "logic." It means to think, consider, ponder, or dwell
    on.  It's a present tense command meaning God wants us to be
    continually thinking, considering, pondering, and dwelling on
    these things.

        cf. Rom. 6:11 Be continually considering yourselves to be dead
            indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ
            our Lord.

I.  What is lovely?

    A.  What it is not

        INPUT:  When we think of the word "lovely" what do we normally
                think of?

                (physical beauty as in a lovely dress or a lovely
                little girl)

        While that may be the common conception today, that of course
        is not what the Scripture is talking about.

    B.  What it is

        1.  The original word is prosphile (PROSS-FILL-AY).  This is
            the only occurrence of this word in the NT which means we
            must take a careful look at the components of the word
            itself to determine its meaning since there are no other
            uses to examine.

        2.  Prosphile is made up of two words: pros and phile.  Pros
            means "toward" and phile, one of the NT words for "love."

            So literally it means "toward love."

            Believers are to be thinking about things that are "toward

        3.  John Vandegriff in In The Arena of the Mind states this as
            "planning or concentration which will bring about a loving

II.  Roadblocks to Lovely Thinking

     If lovely thinking is that which is "towards love," we need to
     know what obstacles we need to overcome to make it a reality in
     our lives.

     A.  Modern American culture

         INPUT:  What are some common misconceptions about love in our
                 culture today?

                 - something you "fall" in and could "fall" out of.

        *ILLUS.  The West Side Story musical was "in an ethnic gang
           war setting.  [In one exchange] Anita is pleading with
           Maria in song to give up Tony because she wants Maria to
           'stick to your own kind,' and because Tony murdered Maria's
           brother.  Maria sings, 'I hear your words and in my head I
           know they're smart.  But my heart, Anita, knows they're
           wrong.' She goes on, 'I have a love and its all that I
           have.  Right or wrong - what else can I do?'

           INPUT:  Now I know we're not in the habit of analyzing the
                   theology of Hollywood musicals in Sunday School --
                   although I trust you're constantly evaluating all
                   you hear and see through a Biblical grid -- but
                   what's wrong with the song's message I just read?

                   (Vandegriff states, "This song eloquently states
                   the case that one 'falls in love.' One can't help
                   it.  It is a matter of the heart and one's
                   feelings, and that's it.  It most certainly isn't a
                   matter of the will.  By the end of the song Anita
                   is convinced, and even though it was her lover that
                   was murdered by Tony, they sing together, 'When
                   love comes so strong, there is no right or wrong.
                   Your love is-your love.'")

                   What a terrible view of love (whatever you may
                   think of the West Sides Story as a musical).

                   That reminds me of another "love" song which states
                   "It can't be wrong because it feels so right."

                   Any time feeling is the basis of love, that
                   marriage or that friendship is on very shaky
                   ground, the house built on sand.  When the first
                   wind blows on that house, it will not stand.

            But if our marriages are built on the bedrock of BIBLICAL
         COMMITMENT, choosing to love and to plan to love AND TO BE
         CONTINUALLY THINKING "TOWARD LOVE" regardless of my feelings,
         and regardless of the other person's actions, then our
         marriages will stand against any storm.

         Have you formed the habit of showing love only when you feel
         like it?

         Do you typically feel your way into your next set of actions?

            God wants us TO THINK AND ACT OUR WAY INTO A NEW SET OF

         cf. John 13:17 "If you know these things, you are blessed
         [happy] if you do them."

         This verse teaches us a thing very imp. thing about feeling
         Right thinking -----> right actions ------> right feelings


Another roadblock to lovely or "toward love" thinking is...

     B.  Laziness

         "Planning or concentration which will bring about a loving
         act"- our def. for lovely thinking - is downright HARD WORK.

         In order for us to be growing "thought-stewards" we must plan
         how we are going to love and benefit others.

         When we fail to plan to do loving deeds, when we fail to
         think "towards love," we are being LAZY.

         INPUT:  Passages or principles from Scripture about laziness?

            Prov. 6:6 -- Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways
              and be wise.

            Prov. 6:9 -- How long will you lie down, O sluggard?  When
              will you arise from your sleep?

            Prov. 10:26 -- Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the
              eyes, So is the lazy one to those who send him.

            Prov. 12:27 -- A slothful man does not roast his prey, But
              the precious possession of a man is diligence.

            Prov. 13:4 -- The soul of the sluggard craves and gets
              nothing, But the soul of the diligent is made fat.

            Prov. 19:15 -- Laziness casts into a deep sleep, And an
              idle man will suffer hunger.

            Prov. 20:4 -- The sluggard does not plow after the autumn,
              So he begs during the harvest and has nothing.

            Prov. 20:16 -- The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes Than
              seven men who can give a discreet answer.

            Prov. 21:25 -- The desire of the sluggard puts him to
              death, For his hands refuse to work.

            Prov. 26:14 -- As the door turns on its hinges, So does
              the sluggard on his bed.

         (neighbor nudge)

         Let's take a few minutes and answer the following questions:

        1.  INPUT:  How might a husband or wife be lazy in their
                    thinking and fail to plan to meet the other's

        2.  INPUT:  What are some ways parents can be lazy and fail
                    to plan to do loving things for their children?

        As a couple or in small groups, think of several responses and
        then in a few minutes we will discuss them.

        OK, let's come back together and discuss your answers.

         1.  INPUT:  How might a husband or wife be lazy in their
                     thinking and fail to plan to meet the other's

             - Husband who thinks ALL he must do for his wife is to
               provide a house, clothes, an insurance policy, maybe a
               car, labor saving devices, and enough $$ to pay the
               bills.  BUT HE IS LAZY IN GETTING TO KNOW HIS WIFE.
               A DAY AT WORK.

             - (Balance) Wife who doesn't plan and think toward love
               for her husband by giving him space before "unloading"
               on him all the problems of her day, or before
               interrogating him on the details of his day.

             - Wife or husband is not sensitive to the other's needs
               for physical intimacy through their sexual
               relationship.  If you don't plan to meet his or her
               needs, oftentimes those needs go unmet.  If you fail to
               plan, you plan to fail.

             - By failing to think how work may be becoming more
               important that the wife or husband.  Work is good, but
               it can become more important that our spouse if we are
               lazy and fail to plan to do the loving thing for our

         2.  INPUT:  What are some ways parents can be lazy and fail
                     to plan to do loving things for their children?

             - Not planning family time with them

                - Children don't want 1 hour of "quality" time, they
                  just want several hours of time!  Don't fall into
                  the quality time trap which says, "I don't get much
                  time with them, but the time I get sure is good!"  1
                  hour of supposed "quality" time does NOT make up for
                  several hours of just plain time with mom and dad.

             - Not having a plan who do have family time

                *ILLUS.  In the video the Jungle Book a group of
                   British vultures up in a tree have a terrible time
                   deciding what to do.  "So whatcha wan' ta do?"  "I
                   dunno, whatchYOU wanna do?" "Don't staat tha'
                   again!" Their boredom is broken who the Mowgli, the
                   little boy, stumbles upon them.

                Argument and indecision can result by mom and dad
                being lazy and not practicing thinking that is
                "towards love" with their children.

                It's not wrong to get their input and see what they
                want to do -- in fact that's great -- but there needs
                to be some planning done.  Good family activities
                don't just happen.  Like we mentioned before, if you
                fail to plan you plan to fail.

                INPUT:  What are some activities you have done or that
                        could be done with your children?

                        - whiffleball, bike rides, miniature golf,
                          special shows on TV with discussions
                          afterwards on the good and bad things you
                          saw, etc.

III.  What Lovely Thinking Will Replace

      This list in Phil. 4:8 is a list of "put ons" for our thinking.
      As we practice these ways of thinking, we will be ceasing from
      sinful ways of thinking.

      INPUT:  What are some sinful ways of thinking that can be
              replaced by thinking "towards love," by planning to do
              bring about a loving act?

      A.  Bitterness

          It's impossible to remain bitter against a person for whom
          you're planning to do a loving thing.

          cf. Eph. 4:31-32; Heb. 12:15

      B.  Self-pity

          "Poor me" thinking can cause a person to be depressed.

          But if the thinking is not on poor me, but how can I serve
          God and others, how can I think toward loving them, then
          self-pity can be overcome.

      C.  Fear

          1 Jn. 4:18  Perfect love, mature love, will drive fear out.

          Perfect love meets the need of the cherished object in spite
          of feelings.

God wants us to be thinking toward love for Him and others.

How have you done in the area of planning for the good of others
around whom the Lord has placed you?

Have you been obeying the command to be thinking "towards love" in the
lives of others?