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.
Week Five = Lovely
1) A lovely, relationship God
2) Friendship is lovely
3) Where He is, is lovely
4) We are lovely to God
5) Celebrating is lovely
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
Session 1 – A lovely, relationship God
From the moment I decided to work through this Scripture in Philippians, I was intrigued by the inclusion of the word lovely. First of all, let it roll off your tongue –
Isn’t it pretty? Isn’t the word itself kind of soft or milky?
It’s not a word we overuse in our culture. Which is refreshing in itself. It has the same kind of lilt as words like grace, and mercy. It is much less intimidating than words like justice and excellence. It is very simply, lovely.
The Greek is even more intriguing. It’s like the creamy caramel center to the milky chocolate outer shell.
The Greek word for lovely, in Philippians 4:8, only ever occurs in Scripture in this passage. But the theme of it, I think you will see is all over Scripture. So what’s the word?
Prosphile – pleasing, acceptable, agreeable, and grateful.
Not horribly unique, but let’s look at the two roots to this single word.
Pros – which means extending toward and phileo. Does that ring a bell with anyone? Phileo is affectionate caring.
Phileo is the Greek word used to express friendship love. It’s perhaps most famous from John 21:15-19 as Jesus questions Peter about his affection for Him carried out in the work of the kingdom. (Feel free to check this passage out, especially using the Biblehub.com/interlinear to see the difference in the Greek words!)
So what good does all this “neat” and “kind of cool” Greek language knowledge do us?
The inclusion of lovely in the Philippians 4 passage, I think gives us a little more insight into who our Great God is. And that, my friends, is…relational.
Scripture shows us time and again that relationship matters more to God than anything – our relationship with Him, the relationships of His people, and relationships or relating to others to share His love with the world.
God loves us. Lovely, love. Wait a minute! Lovely is not an accidental word. This is a purposeful word, with a purposeful place in Scripture and in our hearts. It is knit together and chosen by God for our hearts.
God’s love speaks volumes into our lives and into the lives of those around us. One commentator’s translation* of prophile is “worth the effort to have and embrace.” You are worth the effort to God. There is a physical affection attached to our relationship with Him and our relationship with others, through Him. He longs to pour His affection on you through His Word, His sacraments, and His people. Others long to be shown an affectionate and loving God through affectionate and loving people.
Relationships are hard. They take energy. They take effort, a whole lot of it. But we can be assured of one more thing through Scripture….
Relationships, they really are lovely.