Nate used to say, “Ignorance is no excuse,” and of course most of us agree with that. The trouble is, when we’re dealing with complications like filling out tax forms or answering questions we haven’t researched, pleading ignorance is a handy escape hatch.
While driving home from Iowa last weekend, a sign on the highway reminded me how ignorant I really am. It said, “CELL PHONES ILLEGAL IN WORK ZONES.”
I knew about work zone speed reductions, massive fines for hitting a worker and jail terms for doing damage, but never had I heard about the cell phones. What else don’t I know?
When I was a child, people marveled that the knowledge of the world had actually doubled in 50 years. By the time I was in college, knowledge had doubled again in only 5 years. Today the speed of knowledge-increase may not even be calculable.
The internet has taken the place of Encyclopedia Britannica, and teachers no longer ask students to memorize answers to questions but rather teach them which questions to ask. The answers are too numerous to learn.
Scripture has a great deal to say about knowledge. It’s often linked with wisdom and understanding, a triple fail-safe for correct thinking. We’re encouraged to get as much of them as we can.
God criticizes the simple-minded for not wanting to gain knowledge and doesn’t accept their excuse of ignorance kindly. His judgment of those who hate knowledge is severe, because God himself is the stepping-off point for gaining it. In a sense, if we don’t want a knowledge-increase, we don’t want him.
Dictionary.com tells us knowledge has to do with facts, truth and principles, and Scripture is loaded with them. Learning what they are is our first step toward right living, and to work at it is stepping toward God. So how do we do it?
One way is to notice sunsets, storms, stars, the sun and moon. Psalm 19 tells us the heavens “pour forth speech that reveals knowledge.” It sounds like God is making it easy for us.
Another way is to have a healthy fear of the Lord. Proverbs 1 tells us not only is this the start of being wise, it’s also the source of knowledge. Proverbs also says that if we study the Bible to gain knowledge of God, we’ll have a leg up on understanding, too. And another tip from him: it’s a good idea to steer clear of people who don’t value knowledge. Better to hang out with those who do.
God actually wants us to have knowledge, along with all its benefits, and he reveals many of his knowledge-secrets as we quest after them. (Matthew 13:11) The end result is godliness, something we’d all love to have.
And now that we know how, I guess ignorance is no excuse.
“This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:9-10)