“Finally brethren, whatever is lovely…dwell on these things.”
— Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
Loveliness describes yet another facet of God’s person. But loveliness cannot be separated from truth, honor, rightness, or purity. It is an attribute that can only be possessed by someone who has all the others too.
God wants us to dwell on things that are lovely, things that are pleasing, things that are attractive. The world has many lovely, pleasing, and attractive things to offer us. Does he mean to dwell on these? Certainly not. The loveliness of the world is a dull shadow of the loveliness it once had in God’s presence. Despite the great beauty that surrounds us, God has cursed this world and has sworn to return with judgment and destruction. What we see now is the rotting shell of a once-glorious world and humanity. That original beauty has been shattered by sin. Now the world’s beauty is often deceptive because people worship the creature rather than the Creator and destroy themselves.
But God does want us to pursue and dwell on beauty, except it is a better beauty than the world has to offer. It is the beauty if his own works, his own words, and his own person. Most importantly, God wants us to see the beauty of his Son Jesus. Jesus is the source of all beauty, and nothing can be called lovely without having his fingerprints all over it.
Most lovely of all is the love that Jesus has demonstrated toward his unlovely people. His love to forgive and reconcile and transform is the most lovely thing to behold. Seeing this loveliness has immense transforming power, as 1 John declares:
We know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
— 1 John 3:2 (ESV)