Ignorance. It’s a state of vulnerability. All week, I’ve been down memory lane and experiencing new examples of people claiming “I didn’t know” (ignorance) as an excuse for doing or not doing a particular thing. The claim of “I didn’t know” is usually given with a sense of closure. Most people, including Christians, think that “not knowing” is a justifiable excuse for not doing what should be done in a given situation. What those who claim “ignorance” as an excuse fail to realize is that not knowing is only a part of such a matter. Just as with sin, where the greater issue is the “why” (the status of the heart — whether you were overcome or whether you embrace the sin in your heart), the same applies with ignorance. In other words, God’s concern is the REASON THAT A PERSON DIDN’T KNOW. The thing that was done or not done in a given situation has a degree of criticality associated with it. That’s why a person will be addressed about their actions (or non-actions). Consider some of these reasons why a person “didn’t know”:
- Nobody Told Them (Personal-level): This is the most excusable “I didn’t know” scenario (usually fully excusable). This one speaks to our need to communicate. If a person didn’t know because someone should have told them, the failure to communicate is revealed as the root of the problem.
- I Forgot: While forgetfulness can be excused, at times, the Bible reveals that forgetfulness can result from lack of exposure to the issue-at-hand or, accordingly, failure to keep the issue-at-hand at the forefront of your mind/agenda. The reason why the bout of forgetfulness took place confirms whether or not the act was worthy of rebuke (and an issue of righteousness).
- Didn’t Care (or Haphazard Handling): This one is very close to “I Forgot” (as the person was informed, but wasn’t a good steward of the information received — in some cases, failing to ascribe the proper level of importance to the info received). While they won’t tell you, some folks don’t remember because they didn’t care in the first place. If you should have cared, God has an issue with your lack of concern (which constitutes a failure to love properly), thereby making this an issue of righteousness.
- Poor Discernment/Perception: This is the big one. This one can even be at the root of “nobody told them”, because while someone may not tell you about a given thing, there are many times that God fills the gap and tells you Himself. When God tells you and convicts you about something you should or shouldn’t do, you’re responsible and can’t claim ignorance as an excuse. Just before we do or don’t do certain things, God will warn or inform us so that we can do the right things. God desires that we be sharp spiritually so that we can recognize His funneling of information in such matters.
Bottom-line? Ignorance doesn’t guarantee one being excused. In Luke 12:48, even the person who “didn’t know” was beaten. The best way to approach this matter? Let’s strive to be INFORMED. Information and sharp discernment is available to those who seek it — by way of the Lord Jesus Christ. This way, ignorance becomes a non-issue.