Keep Aloof from Strife | Proverbs 20:3

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife,
but every fool will be quarreling.

Proverbs 20:3 ESV

Although all of Proverbs applies to all ages of humanity, this verse feels particularly relevant today. With advent of the Internet and especially social media, it sometimes seems as though life has become one massive quarrel. The connectivity of it all, I believe, plays a major role. Strife is no longer localized; rather, it has gone global. Twitter feuds, often between people have never met face-to-face, are an assumed regularity now.

Of course, we must remember that the proverbs give us wisdom principles to follow. So, this verse is not saying that conflict-avoidance itself is an honor. Some conflicts are worth the strife. Most are not. A wise man will know when to stand his ground or even join the fray and when to remain aloof from the conflict. Fools, however, are quarrelsome. They attack every squabble as though it were a matter of life and death because they lack the wisdom to discern when strife is truly necessary.

Since Jesus is perfectly wise, we should not be surprised to see this proverb displayed in His life and ministry. When reading the Gospels, Jesus seems to be in a perpetual strife with scribes, Pharisees, demons, and sin itself. Yet while Jesus explicitly came to triumph over Satan’s domain of darkness, He almost always be described as keeping aloof. With the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus often trips their attempts to trap Him with a mere question. The demons even fall at His feet and beg not to be tormented by Him. Jesus is continuously shown to be above the quarrels.

Let us follow in imitation of our Lord. Like Jesus, may we never fail to uphold the truth, yet let us not fool ourselves into thinking that we must enter into every conflict.


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