"I want you to be wise to what is good and innocent to what is evil."
It may be my post 50 slanted perspective on life, or possibly because I work at an institution of higher learning, however it seems to me that innocence has become a negative characteristic if you are past the age of seven. Somehow innocence is equated with “narrow-mindedness, naiveté or even anti-intellectualism. I can't tell you how many times I have felt the awkwardness of having not seen, read, or even heard about some internet discussion or phenomena! I am not sure what happens, but some inner high schooler comes out in me when I am not in the know.
Webster’s Dictionary gives us three uses of the noun "innocence." They are "a: the state of being not guilty of a crime or other wrong act, b: lack of experience with the world and with bad things that happen in life, and c: lack of knowledge about something." My concern here is not with definition "a" but rather confusion Christians may have over definitions "b" and "c". I am totally convinced that people are to be lifelong students. After all I am a pastor and a professor! Knowledge is good and we live in age were information is more readily available than ever before. Read! Learn! Study!
Nevertheless, as we take our long swims in the deep warm waters of the internet it is important to do so with a sober understanding that not all knowledge is helpful or beneficial. In other words, it is a not a negative characteristic to have a level of innocence past the age seven. Though I am a recovering legalist, my intent is not to bash the internet or the times we live in. I happen to believe this an exciting period to be alive. This is simply a challenge to invest your mental time wisely. It is a reminder that it is actually healthy to be innocent in regard to much of the information that is readily available and specifically "what is evil."
Why don't we ask the God of all grace to build in us a passion for all that is good and revulsion to the evil that we all experience? You see Paul's challenge in Romans 16:19 is not only a contrast between "good" and "evil" but a distinction between simply knowing about "evil" and the understanding a "good" that comes through experience. In other words through "tasting and seeing that the LORD is good" (Psalm 34:8).
Think about this for a minute. People who are "wise to what is good" are those who have been impacted by the Gospel. They have experienced the goodness of God in ways that are beyond explanation. They bask in the comfort of His grace. Being "wise to what is good" then not only brings comfort to our troubled souls, but enables and empowers us to be agents of good to those with whom we live, work and play. On the other hand "what is evil” tends to exhaust, discourage, and often incapacitate us.