It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.
The Proverbs in Scripture are like excellent spiritual beef jerky. You take small bites and you chew on them for a long time. Meditating on Proverbs is life-training in the most practical ways. For example: Proverbs 20:3 says “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.” Honor here is that which is weighty or substantive: integrity; character; worthy of respect.
Do you want respect? Good. It is an honor, or it is worthy of respect, for a man to keep aloof. The word aloof here is the Hebrew wordShabbat. It’s actually the root word from which we get our word Sabbath. Sabbath means to cease, to desist, to rest. “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife . . . ” This means he will not join the fray; not when attacked, not even to defend himself. He will keep himself aloof.
This does not mean aloof emotionally, but aloof from . . . Do you know what? “I’m not going to get into that. I’m going to step away from this argument.” You are doing your family a favor when you maintain a sense of perspective.
I taught this verse a few years ago at church. A week or two after the sermon, one couple came up to me all smiling and happy-faced. They told me they had really taken this to heart. Like a lot of couples, they admitted to certain habitual conflicts. And they laughingly said, “We had a fight this week!” The husband continued, “Yeah. We were arguing and I was trying too hard to make my point.” She added, “He was trying to goad me into the fight, but I remembered that verse you taught us in Proverbs. So I said to him, ‘I aloof you!’ It took a moment, but we both started laughing!” Talk about detouring an argument! Isn’t that great? “I aloof you!” It worked; they seemed so happy.
There’s honor in standing aloof from meaningless strife. “We’re better than this. We have way bigger dreams than this. Let’s figure this out rather than fighting it out.” “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.”
· What difference would this Proverb make in the way I currently handle conflict in my family?
· How would I describe the signs of healthy versus unhealthy “aloofness”?
Thank You, Father, for the pithy wisdom of Proverbs. You’ve graciously given us so much to chew on! Help me to move beyond thinking about these matters to the point of faithfully applying them in my relationships. And give me wisdom in those moments when I usually step into a fight to make the decision to step back, out of honor for Your Word as well as putting honor into practice. In Jesus’ name, Amen.