This series of reflections dips into the well of Scripture as regards the Quaker testimonies of: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship/Sustainability.
One of the most commonly referenced Scripture verses in regard to simplicity is: "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). The testimony of Simplicity reminds us that the treasure we seek is more fundamental to our existence as humans than material wealth. Our most valuable treasure lies in our relationships to one another and through these, our relationship to the Light. In the Second Letter to the Corinthians, the author speaks of "the testimony of our conscience [by which] we behaved in the world with simplicity…not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God" (2 Corinthians 1:12). Thus, our approach to amass the ultimate treasure must be one that is rooted in Divine rather than human wisdom.
Obviously, in the secular world in which we live, we need to have the basics to survive: food, clothing, shelter, and the like, but as it states further in the aforementioned chapter in Matthew, the "birds of the air…the lilies of the field" (Matthew 6:25-34) are not anxious about these things, yet are nourished by their Creator. This calls us to a sense of "enough-ness" - to be content with what we have and refrain from expending energy and resources to gain more and more material goods. Society's norms dictate that to be considered "successful," one needs to have the best quality possessions, the newest gadgets, and be up to date on the latest trend. As Friends, we recognize that it is far more essential to be the best Christians we can be, to live anew each day, and and to be up to date on the suffering in the world so that we can respond to it in Truth and Love. To do this, we must put our trust completely in God's graciousness for our physical well-being, so that our energies can be directed toward the more important tasks of loving one another, building a world of peace, and bringing hope to those who are lost. A passage from Romans says that when we "set the mind on the flesh, it is death, but [when we] set the mind on the Spirit, it is life and peace" (Romans 8:6). Therefore, as we reflect on the testimony of Simplicity in our lives, we must seek wisdom on the following queries:
- For what treasure am I truly striving in life?
- What values are at the root of my daily decisions - earthly or spiritual?
- How can I use my gifts to upbuild the Peaceable Kin-dom rather than to add interest to my financial portfolio?
- Can I live with a sense of "enough-ness"?
As we discern the answers to these queries, let us remember that "we brought nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out of this world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content" (1 Timothy 6:7-8).