Before we consider transcendent things, let’s define transcendent. This word means “existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe.” To set your mind at ease, the transcendent traits of God have nothing to do with false religions such as transcendental meditation. Now let’s consider the following verse.
“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.”Philippians 4:8
This verse has always been difficult for me to understand. It’s God’s Word, yet I find it difficult to think deeply about these things. I always change “think” into “do.” It’s easy for me to read this verse as an action verse. For example, I’m amazed how God used John Bunyan, the author of “Pilgrim’s Progress,” to live his life, raise his family, and enrich the Christian world. But I’m thinking about his works, and that’s not what today’s Scripture is about. So, I dug into this verse, and there’s more to it than I expected. What the Apostle Paul lists are transcendent traits of God. And we are told to think about these things. Here’s an example to show the difference between transcendent traits and dependent actions:
Two soldiers serve valiantly during their deployment. Both have earned honors, but this doesn’t mean that the world has run out of “honor.” Millions of people may earn honors, but the world will still have the same amount of honor. Whether no one receives honor or millions receive honors, honor is transcendent, while acting honorably is a dependent action.
God is Training Us
Now that we understand that “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy” are transcendent traits of God, we can better understand that Godly actions depend upon Godly traits. A person may do something excellent, but excellence is the transcendent trait of God, while the act of excellence is an action that comes from God’s trait.
So, the Apostle Paul is telling us this: when we consider dependent actions – someone does something lovely – if we think about it, this lovely act will lead us to find and consider the true nature of God’s transcendent characteristic of loveliness. The Holy Spirit is training us, teaching us, and transforming us by renewing our minds. (Romans 12:2) This is the point of this post.
Trained Like a Hound Dog
When we consider things that happen in our lives or the lives of others, we have an opportunity to discover the transcendent trait(s) of God in these events. The more we “think on these things,” the better prepared we are to know if something is “of God” or “of the world.” It’s as if God is training us like hound dogs. We learn to smell the scent. Is it of God, or is it of the world? Does it have the aroma of life or the aroma of death? (2 Corinthians 2:16) As we learn to “think on these things,” we learn to find God’s loveliness easily or quickly discover worldly impostors of loveliness.
We are changed when we “think on these things.” As we learn to see God’s traits and to recognize worldly imposters, we will marvel at these traits of God. And, when we consider them, each one leads us to transcendent wonder and beauty, which are also traits of God. As we “think on these things,” the Holy Spirit will help us to see life from God’s perspective, and that’s good news.
Image from Pixabay
You may like: Love Is An Adventure