Proverbs 20:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 20:3, NIV: It is to one's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Proverbs 20:3, ESV: It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.

Proverbs 20:3, KJV: It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.

Proverbs 20:3, NASB: Avoiding strife is an honor for a person, But any fool will quarrel.

Proverbs 20:3, NLT: Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.

Proverbs 20:3, CSB: Honor belongs to the person who ends a dispute, but any fool can get himself into a quarrel.

What does Proverbs 20:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

"Honor" often refers to reputation, as well as respect. In earlier verses, Solomon noted that a person who knows when to be quiet could be seen as wise, even if he's not (Proverbs 17:28). The person who lacks self-control might talk themselves into a beating (Proverbs 18:6). Not every argument is worth having, so a wise person chooses their battles carefully. Avoiding petty squabbles is the mark of a wise person; it earns the respect of others. In contrast, those who are hot-tempered, argumentative, or easily angered are clearly fools.

New Testament instructions echo this principle. Jesus commands His followers to ignore insults and other minor infractions (Luke 6:29). Paul extols the honor of peacemakers (Romans 12:18) and commands Christians to avoid revenge (Romans 12:19–21).

Abram—later renamed as Abraham (Genesis 17:5)—chose peace instead of strife. There was conflict between his herdsmen and those of his nephew Lot. So, Abram said, "Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen" (Genesis 13:8). He offered Lot whatever land he wanted. He told Lot, "Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left" (Genesis 13:9). The Lord rewarded Abram for choosing peace instead of strife. He promised Abram and his descendants all the land Abram could see, re-emphasizing the promise He had made with Abram when He called him out of his homeland (Genesis 12:1–3, 7). He said, "for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever" (Genesis 13:15).