“He who winks at a fault causes trouble, but he who frankly reproves promotes peace.”
You observe a friend making a poor decision or practicing a bad habit. Do you speak up or keep quiet? Do you laugh along with him/her or demonstrate disapproval? Deep down, we all know the right thing to do – but knowing and doing are two very different animals.
One of my friends revealed a secret to me. (Let’s call him Josh for the sake of this story.) Josh told me that he was doing something both he and I know to be very wrong. He expressed remorse, but was decidedly ok with continuing the negative behavior. I was in shock and all I could manage to say to him was, “I can’t believe I didn’t know.” I even comforted him as if his behavior wasn’t that bad.
Later that day, I went home and cried hysterically to my husband. I couldn’t believe one of my friends would do something so self-destructive. More than that – I couldn’t believe I didn’t know him as well as I thought I had, and that his morals/values were not as in line with mine as I thought they were. My heart was heavy with regret, and all the things I should have said kept running through my head. My choice not to speak up compounded an already difficult situation. I felt like an accessory to a crime.
What my regret has taught me
Laughing or offering comfort without clearly expressing your view of the situation (or winking as the scripture above says) is as good as approval. There is no one better poised to communicate concern or alarm than a good friend, and by not bringing your concerns to light, you aren’t really being a friend at all. It is much easier to live without a friend that writes you off for voicing your opinion than it is to regret condoning (even if only by your silence) toxic behavior that will lead him/her down a dangerous path. If he/she is really a good friend, honesty has the power to make your relationship stronger.