“Whatever Is Lovely”: Why It Is Important to Think About Beautiful Things

Carolyn Lacey | June 1st 2023

It is hard to define beauty, but we know it when we see it—or hear it, smell it, touch it or taste it. Beauty elicits some kind of response in us, even if it is just to exclaim, “Wow!” A stunning sunset, a haunting piece of music, soft silk, fragrant flowers, the perfect raspberry panna cotta.

God has made a world full of beauty, and while it is true that parts of it have been spoiled by sin, there is so much beauty that remains if we will take the time to look for it. The problem is, we often don’t. It is easier to focus on the negative—what went wrong in our day, what someone said that was unkind, a difficult relationship; disappointments, discouragements and regrets.

When we see, hear, touch, taste or smell things that provoke a “Wow!” response, we experience something of God’s goodness, and it should change our perspective.

But as those who know the one who is the source of all beauty and the one to whom all beauty points, we should be on the lookout for every hint of beauty we can find. Christian writer Dallas Willard once said, “Beauty is God’s goodness made manifest to the senses.”

When we see, hear, touch, taste or smell things that provoke a “Wow!” response, we experience something of God’s goodness, and it should change our perspective. 

Whatever is Lovely

In Philippians 4:8, Paul tells believers to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.

He summarises, “If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”. He knows how easy it is to focus on things that are not excellent or praiseworthy. Things that are false, dishonourable, unjust, impure, ugly and unworthy of our attention. Things that cause us to doubt God’s goodness and propel us towards unbelief and ungodliness.

When we lose sight of beauty, we quickly become weary, bored and disillusioned.

But pulling our thoughts back to that which is excellent and praiseworthy will correct false thinking and restore our joy.

When we lose sight of beauty, we quickly become weary, bored and disillusioned. Life loses its lustre. But beauty reawakens us and inspires fresh hope. When we feel overwhelmed by the brokenness of the world, focusing on what is pure, lovely and admirable renews our perspective and draws us back to the story of redemption. 

A Better Story

It is easy to ignore these beautiful things and to fill our speech with worries and cynicism. To overthink and over-share every fear. But filling our speech with worries and cynicism rarely helps us—or those we speak to.

As Christians we know there is a better story and there are more beautiful things to say. In the ordinary moments of each day, we can bring beauty into view by training ourselves to look for the things that reveal God’s goodness—and then sharing them with others. 

That does not mean we avoid talking about anything that is ugly and broken. It is right that we expose evil in our world, and we should express sadness and anger at it. But we can delight in knowing that God’s goodness is even greater, and take every opportunity to draw attention to that.

Eternal Treasure

To those who belong to him, there is nothing more beautiful than the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and the promise of eternal life with him. This is what Jesus wants his followers to focus on as they live in this present world with all its trouble and worry. 

In Luke 12, he redirects the disciples’ focus from fear about not having enough in this life to the eternal treasure of heaven. After speaking about the wild flowers he says: Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:32-34)

Jesus doesn’t lecture but uses beautiful imagery that will draw the disciples into the good news of the gospel. Like us, they are tempted to view life only from an earthly perspective. But Jesus reminds them of the truer, better story they are part of. He lifts their gaze from earthly concerns and reorients their hearts towards eternal treasure. And this is what our words can do, too. 

In every conversation, we have an opportunity to remind each other of the beauty of the gospel. To encourage one another to look beyond what is in view to what is eternal. And to reorient ourselves to the one who is most excellent and worthy of all praise.

This is an excerpt from Say the Right Thing by Carolyn Lacey. This positive, constructive book delves into the Bible to show us how we can use our speech to bring beauty, hope, truth, and comfort into the lives of those around us—and to give glory to God.

Carolyn Lacey

Carolyn Lacey is a writer, speaker and pastor’s wife. She serves alongside her husband, Richard, in Worcester, UK, where she works part-time for her church as a women's worker. She teaches the Bible regularly at women's events and conferences, and is a mum to two grown-up children.

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