A mother was waiting for her little girl to get off the bus after her first day at school. When she got off the bus, the mother asked her, “What did you learn today?” The little girl replied, “Nothing, I guess. The teacher said I have to come back tomorrow.” Life has a way of bringing us all back again and again to the reality of our own ignorance. They say that ignorance is bliss, but it is also a fact. There is so much about ourselves we have yet to discover, so much about the world in which we live we have yet to explore. And there is so much about the faith we profess that we have yet to grasp. One of the ironies and irritations of life is that the more we know, the more we know about the less we know. It’s been commonly said, the wiser a man becomes, the more ignorant he knows himself to be.
Paul acknowledges this struggle in his first letter to the Corinthians. There he cites the fact that we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror and that our knowledge is partial and incomplete (1 Cor. 13:12). Now, while that is one of the burdens of living in a fallen world this side of heaven, we often fail to look past that handicap and consider the blessing of not knowing it all. There are some upsides to only knowing in part.
Firstly, it is good that we do not know it all, for it keeps us humble. Knowledge has a way of making us proud (1 Cor. 8:1). We think we are better than others because we know more than others. Knowing that we know only in part should make us easy to live with and keep us from acting like we are God. It frees us up not to have an opinion on everything.
Secondly, it is good that we do not know it all, for it causes us to take life one day at a time (Matt. 6:34). Imagine if God showed you the future, all that is going to happen in the next five years. It would be overwhelming and discombobulating. Not knowing it all, however, helps us live life because it allows us to live retail, not wholesale.
Thirdly, it is good that we do not know it all, for it makes us kinder toward others. Not knowing the whole story of a person’s life should make us very slow to judge another’s actions (1 Cor. 4:1–5). We only see a momentary snapshot. Not knowing it all should cause us to give people the benefit of the doubt. Not knowing it all should caution us when tempted to give glib answers to life’s perplexing problems.
Fourthly, it is good that we do not know it all, for it presses us to trust the One who does know all things. But we know despite our ignorance that God unerringly and unswervingly works all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28).