Ignorance is often willful and self-imposed. The inspired apostle describes some as being “darkened in their understanding” (Eph. 4:18). Jesus describes them as loving “the darkness rather than the Light” (Jn. 3:19).
Light exposes the nature of our deeds (vss. 19-20). For that reason, many prefer darkness to light – ignorance to the knowledge of the truth. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you” is an expression that has been around for centuries, the oldest written version dating back to 1576. Back in the day, it would have read:
“So long as I know it not, it hurteth me not.” The dictionary goes on to comment: “More recent practical experience, as well as empirical research, suggests the opposite.”
What you don’t know can hurt you! While this can be easily illustrated in the natural world, it is also true in the spiritual realm. God lamented the spiritual unfaith fulness of His people, saying, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6).
Correspondingly, Jesus spoke to believing Jews of His day, saying, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32). In both instances, life-knowledge is under consideration.
However, we cannot properly apply what we learn to our lives so long as we ignore His teaching or choose to abide in ignorance. Instead, we are to be like newborn babes, longing “for the pure milk of the word” so that we might “grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:1:2).
We leave no stone unturned in our effort to properly educate our children so that they will not experience the pain of not knowing things essential to their happiness in this life. But, how have we fared in passing on matters related to their eternal salvation? What they don’t know will hurt them! Before it is too late, we must earnestly teach our children to know God and obey His commandments (2 Th. 1:7-10).
Glen Elliott, Greenbrier Church of Christ