“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
–think about such things.”
If we are to respond positively to the commands to love, then the love needs to start within us. It cannot merely be confined to outward acts – 1 Corinthians 13 warns us of the consequences. Love begins to look out for the positive and beautiful aspects of life and living and focus on them. This is not artificial and an ignoring of the truth, but it is a refusal to merely dwell on weakness and ugliness when it is not helpful. There is beauty all around us, there are fine qualities in many people, including ourselves.
What Paul is really challenging us with is to allow the God-given beauty within us – the new and redeemed us, temples of the lovely Holy Spirit Himself – to begin to surface and take control of our thoughts. To give us a new focus, a fresh awareness, and a different perception of truth. In the process we will find an enhanced perception of the loveliness around us, and within others – even in the midst of the challenges and pain of life. And, if we are really open we may find God showing us things that He finds lovely and that delight Him.
There are enough armchair critics. Check yourself and step out in a new way.
Father, show me the beauty and the loveliness around me – and the things that are noble and praiseworthy – and help me to be aware of them too. In Jesus name, Amen.