Monday, December 5, 2011

Acting in Ignorance

Acting in Ignorance

"And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers." Acts 3:17 (ESV)

IGNORANCE: agnoia (the quality of ignorance); from agnoeo (not to know, to ignore through disinclination); from noieo (to exercise the mind, observe, comprehend, heed); from nous (the intellect, mind, meaning); from ginosko (to know)

Ignorance means to not know and to not care to know. The root of the word is to exercise the mind, to observe and attach meaning and importance to what is observed.

Peter was preaching to Jews, the religious people who denied Christ's divine nature and hated His condemnation of their lifestyle. The Jewish leaders initiated His arrest and demanded His execution, and Peter blamed ignorance for their malice and violence.

The Apostle Paul described ignorance as having a mind of futility:

"You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity." Ephesians 4:17-19 (ESV)

FUTILITY: mataiotes (inutility, transientness, depravity); from mataios (empty, profitless, an idol); from maten (folly, to no purpose); from masaomai (to chew); from masso (to handle or squeeze)

An ignorant mind may indeed be exercising, but only in vain. Imagine a meal of sawdust. You might season the powdered wood with salt and pepper, and the taste might be tolerable, but you can chew and swallow a plateful of sawdust and not gain any nutrition.

At the core of ignorance is a hardness of heart. The strongest, most inner desires of one who is ignorant depend upon expectations or assumptions that are false. From that false foundation results an obscured understanding of God, a broken relationship with our Creator. As more and more decisions are built upon the false core of belief, the mind and emotions become callous, sensual and greedy for impurity.

Ignorance murdered an Innocent.

Not all ignorance ends in murder or damnation. To believe that wood powder has the same nutritional value as corn meal or wheat will result in minor indigestion. But even minor mistakes, if continued for years without change, can bring illness or death.

Is there a solution to ignorance? It seems impossible to correct something unknown. How does one know what they do not know?

The softness of one's heart seems to be the key issue. A soft heart describes a person whose strongest, most inner desires are dependent upon expectations or assumptions that are true. For example, there is great truth and honesty in expecting to have limited understanding of all things. If I have a strong desire for truth, and at the same time I fully expect to have limited understanding of all things, my heart can be said to be soft: I will be open to correction. I will be quick to exercise my mind in checking the facts and experimenting cautiously with unknown situations.

A soft heart is not too proud to change. A soft heart is willing to admit misunderstandings and mistakes. A soft heart desires to learn and grow.

God, make my heart soft.

Image courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt,