The Knowledge of Ignorance

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Perfect wisdom comes from God. It represents what we are to do with the knowledge and understanding we have obtained. It’s like the college graduates who have spent a great deal of time getting prepared for a professional career. They have the “head knowledge” but lack the wisdom to apply that knowledge in a meaningful way. There is an old Greek saying that loosely translated says: the knowledge of ignorance is the beginning of knowledge. James addresses that:

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. ESV

One of the keys in James’ statement is that we must “ask.” If we don’t ask God, we are saying that we don’t need His wisdom; natural or spiritual There is so much freedom in admitting that we do not know the answer, yet on the other hand we try to bluff our way through and never get the answer we need.

James used an interesting word when he said generously (haplos; liberally, bountifully). When we ask, He gives us all we need. And in the context here James is referring to trials (verses 1-4), where he tells us to ask God for wisdom to deal with those trials; being assured that God will give us the wisdom we need. But lest we leave this thought here, we need to read on.

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind but let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. ESV

We cannot hope to obtain any favor from God if we ask without faith. No doubting (wavering) means no hesitating as to nothing; in no respect. We are to come to Him in total confidence and assurance that He will respond to His Word. One scripture that has always stood out in my mind relates to this:

Isa 55:11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ESV

If we ask in faith without wavering, based upon His Word, He will be faithful to provide us with the wisdom we need. But does He give us wisdom in all things?

1 Kings 3:9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” ESV

Moses had knowledge and understanding of the Law but he asked God for the wisdom to apply it. We can also be certain that He will give us wisdom in all things pertaining to His perfect will. But we need to remember that it is an issue of the heart. Why are we seeking wisdom? Is it for our own selfish purposes or for the advancement of His coming Kingdom? It is a wise man that knows and admits his limitations and calls upon God to meet his needs … who understands the knowledge of ignorance … and is prepared for the answer and all that it entails.

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