It is said that, “ignorance of the law is no excuse”. For instance, when my family moved into a new house some years ago, we didn’t realize for about 9 months that we were inside (not outside) the local city’s income taxation zone. We still owed those back taxes, whether we realized it or not!
On the other hand, there are many things about which being ignorant isn’t inherently wrong or bad. I am ignorant of batting averages for the local baseball team (even back when sports were still being played in stadiums), as well as the names on pretty much anyone who stars on a “reality” TV show. I’m also ignorant of many accounting and legal terms, having been trained as an engineer. Other people are ignorant of coding conventions for programming languages that I have used for years. In this case, ignorance (despite the negative connotation that we sometimes give that word) about certain topics is not fundamentally a problem, unless we are in a situation where specific knowledge is required.
Conveniently, when we need knowledge, most ignorance is curable. While I walk this earth in a mortal body, I will still be ignorant about many things, but I can generally find answers to what I need to know. Yes, misinformation and lies abound, but a single correct answer is readily available for many fact-based questions.
In that light, let’s consider the apostle Paul. Early in his life, He did some pretty bad things. Before he learned the truth about Jesus, he sought out followers of Jesus to arrest and imprison them (see Acts 9:1-2, Acts 22:3-5, and Acts 26:9-11). Later, Paul wrote the following in a letter to his student, Timothy:
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 1:12-14 NLT
Some of us may be able to claim that we were previously ignorant of specific details about God, and lacked a full comprehension about how serious our sins are. That does not excuse us from our sins’ consequences, but we can overcome this ignorance and learn the truth.
Paul, who learned a lot in a hurry one day as God spoke to him directly, was amazed that God extended both mercy and grace to him, after all of the terrible things that he (Paul) had done. There are many others in the same situation, whose lives were set against God, but who were overwhelmed (“mind blown”!) when they turned back to God and discovered His love for them. The fact that God still loved us after all we have done is nearly incomprehensible, yet He not only wants to adopt us back into His family, but also has a purpose and a mission for each of us to live out.
That’s probably enough to ponder for today, and I encourage you to meditate on this passage (or even the entire chapter), to consider what God’s amazing grace means to you. Tomorrow, let’s consider what we should do once we have learned this truth.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.