Know and Do Better
“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.”
- Acts 3:17
What a bold and generous statement for Peter to make!
In the previous verses in this passage, Peter laid down a very serious charge against his hearers: “You disowned the Holy and Righteous … You killed the author of life …” (Acts 3:14a &15a). He wasn’t pulling any punches. But just when he had worked up a head of accusatory steam, he shifted his focus.
“You acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.” Peter deliberately echoed Jesus’ cry from the cross “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). And in doing so, Peter made a choice.
He could have minimized their behavior: “What you did wasn’t a big deal.” He could have ignored their behavior: “You know what you did, but let’s just pretend it didn’t happen.” Instead, he confronted them with what they did and encouraged them to take a different course. Implicit in his statement is an urge to behave differently now that they know better.
Sometimes people say and do hurtful things just because they don’t know better. They don’t know the impact they’re having. They don’t know how to behave differently. They are trapped in their ignorance. And if this is true for them, then it’s also true for us on occasion.
When we don’t know better, we can’t act better. When they don’t know better, we can’t expect them to act better. But once that ignorance is removed, a new level of accountability and responsibility appears.
How do you account for ignorance when you think about holding people accountable for their actions? How do you account for ignorance when you think about holding yourself accountable for your actions? Ask the Lord to show you today if you need to become more bold and generous when dealing with ignorance in yourself or others.
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