Advices and Queries for the Month of December 2010
Manner of Living
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom 12:3–21 NRSV)
Christian Faith and Practice of the Religious Society of Friends (1960) p. 8-9
Simplicity does not mean that all conform to uniform standards. Each must determine in the light that is given [she or] him what promotes and what hinders [her or] his compelling search for the Kingdom. The call to each is to abandon those things that clutter [t]his life and to press toward the goal unhampered. This is true simplicity.
Friends are watchful to keep themselves free from self-indulgent habits, luxurious ways of living and the bondage of fashion. This freedom is the first condition of vigour in all kids of effort, whether spiritual, intellectual or physical. Undue luxury often creates a false sense of superiority, causes unnecessary burdens upon both ourselves and others and leads to the neglect of the spiritual life. By observing and encouraging simple tastes in apparel, furniture, buildings and manner of living, we help to do away with rivalry and we learn to value self-denial.
But this does not mean that life is to be poor and bare, destitute of joy and beauty. All that promotes fulness of life and aids in service for Christ is to be accepted with thanksgiving. Simplicity, when it removes encumbering details, makes for beauty in music, in art and in living. It clears the springs of life and permits wholesome mirth and gladness to bubble up; it cleans the windows of life and lets joy radiate. It requires the avoidance of artificial or harmful social customs and conventions but it opens wide the door to cultivate and express to all sincere cordiality, kindness and friendliness. This sort of simplicity removes barriers and eases tensions. In its presence all can be at ease.
Faith and Practice of Philadelphia YM (1955)
Faith and Practice: Northwest Yearly Meeting
14. Commitment to Simplicity
As Friends we have a long tradition for adhering to scriptural injunctions for plain living. In this respect, we are encouraged to work toward transforming the values of our culture rather than conforming without question. We recognize our responsibility for the care and use of the earth and, therefore, our obligation to maintain a style of living that will conserve resources for future generations.
15. Commitment to Integrity
We believe that integrity of speech and action honors Christ as it advances truth and, therefore, should characterize our social and business relationships. In allegiance to Christ’s command, we refrain from swearing oaths and from profanity of speech. We consider integrity a mark of Christian holiness.
17. Respect for the Body
We affirm the sacredness of body, mind, and spirit, and the necessity for Christians to conduct themselves in ways that honor God. Out of respect for ourselves and consideration for those we influence, we refuse to be defiled by salacious literature and amusements, and we reject involvement that could lead to drug or alcohol abuse, or to occult religious practices. We consider the body a temple of God to be cared for with respect, the mind a gift from God to be developed for personal and social enrichment, and the spirit an inner place for God to dwell.
20. Commitment to Christian Faith and Witness
We believe the Christian life is characterized by disciplined devotion and commitment, by a hunger for God and a thirst for righteousness. This commitment is strengthened by habits of prayer and Bible reading. For us this Christian faith involves commitment to the work of Friends. Although we respect freedom of conscience and honor diversity in the family of God, we affirm our covenant with God as Friends people. Therefore, we aim to be faithful to those structures of our denominational life through which our Gospel witness is made clear.
The Queries – Northwest Yearly Meeting
Is your life marked by simplicity? Are you free from the burden of unnecessary possessions? Do you avoid waste? Do you refuse to let the prevailing culture and media dictate your needs and values?
Are you careful to live within your income? Do you avoid involving yourself in business beyond your ability to manage or in highly speculative ventures? Are you willing to accept a lower economic standard rather than compromise Christian values?
Are you honest and just in your dealings? Are you true to your promises, prompt in paying your debts, and responsible in handling money or property entrusted to you?
Do you discipline your mind and body to serve as instruments of the Lord? Do you avoid pornography? Do you abstain from harmful, addictive, and unnecessary drugs—including alcoholic beverages, tobacco, marijuana, and cocaine—and from profiting through their use? Do you refrain from gambling and taking part in lotteries?
Other Yearly Meetings
From North Pacific Yearly Meeting
Quaker simplicity is one of the fruits of a primary commitment to the Spirit of God. Writing of simplicity, Thomas Kelly reminds us, “Life is meant to be lived from a Center, a divine Center-a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time.”
Friends are advised to strive for simplicity in the use of their earnings and property, and in their style of living, choosing that which is simple and useful…
- Do we center our lives in the awareness of the presence of God so that all things take their rightful place?
- Do we keep our lives uncluttered with things and activities, and avoid commitments beyond our strength and light? Is the life of our Meeting so ordered that it helps us simplify our personal lives? Do we order our individual lives so as to nourish our spiritual growth?
- Are we alert to the dangers and unfairness of gambling, and of games of chance?
- Are our lives so filled by the Spirit that we are free of the need to indulge in the addictive use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, or excesses of any kind? Do we choose recreations which strengthen our physical, mental, and spiritual lives and avoid those which may prove harmful to ourselves and others?
- Do we keep to a single standard of truth, so that we are free from the use of judicial and other oaths? Are we punctual in keeping promises, prompt in the payment of debts, and just and honorable in all our dealings? Do we keep to simplicity, moderation and honesty in our speech, our manner of living, and our daily work?