See if you can relate to this scenario: You have a relative who you may see once a year, who breezes into town, and at each brief gathering proceeds to tell you what you need to be doing with your life -- how you should be raising your kids, what you need to be doing in regards to your job, and even what is wrong with your character. Or maybe it doesn't even need to be that distant. Perhaps it is someone you briefly see at church on weekends, who only sees you there, but feels the need to tell you what you should be doing. They throw their experience and the gospel at you like an abrasive, blunt cinder block.
What makes words so uber painful in each of these situations? They don't KNOW you. The person is an acquaintance and NOT a friend. They haven't had extended time with you, or invested in your life, or displayed caring in any meaningful, impactful way. They are more like the "Monday morning quarterback" who comments on the weekend's game without ever having played football a day in their lives.
I recently had one of those "armchair quarterbacks" make comments to me in a conversation about some frustrations. While the listener has always been in a position to get involved, they ultimately made the armchair assessment that all of my troubles were due to the way I was going about things. Mind you, this individual has never spent any significant amount of time with me, stepped into my mess, or done anything other than pay lip service to the notion of caring.
These situations have also occurred with people I thought were friends and immediate relatives in the past. The result of these types of conversations? I want to keep my distance. As a wise colleague of mine once said to me during my investment broker years, "They don't know what they don't know." Their words ooze nothing but false accusation.
Don't you wish you had more FRIENDS and fewer ACQUAINTANCES? I don't know about you, but I can literally count on probably a half-a-hand the number of loving people who have truly endured with me through thick and thin, knowing my trials, my history, my heart, and my growth. They are truth-tellers who never accuse. They help me laugh at myself, but they are also always there to put their caring into action. Their behavior towards me matches their words.
Now I want you to take that dreamy image you have in your mind of that meaningful friend and flip it. Put yourself in the position of the acquaintance, and put God in the position of the friend-seeker. Ouch! God doesn't need us, but oh, how He longs for us. Yet, how much time do we truly invest in knowing Him? How often do we only brush past Him on a Sunday, then make false assessments about Who He is on Monday? What amount of time do we spend at the foot of the cross, sharing His sorrow for those He loves? Do we do more blabbing to Him than listening to His wisdom?
God can identify with our feelings that we have too many acquaintances and too few friends. He does too. Now our challenge is to turn from that behavior, knowing how much it hurts God's heart, and really live out what we proclaim with our lips.
PRAY: Jesus, You stepped into my mess and called me "friend." Help me to live up to that name. In the final analysis, may I be found to truly be a friend of God and not just a mere acquaintance.