“a poor man in shabby clothes”
I want to tell you today, about Sarah.
I attend a women’s Bible study every week. I have for years, but last year, because of my schedule, I started attending a different class than the one I had been.
When I started at this class, I met Sarah. For two years now, she and I have been in the same small group, which means going over the homework together, and sharing a little more than with the class as a whole. So I’ve gotten to know her.
Sarah is in her eighties, I believe, and needs a walker. She is from Eritrea, a small country (about six million) in the Horn of Africa, bordering the Red Sea. Interestingly, the name “Eritrea” actually comes from the Greek name for the Red Sea.
She has been in the U.S. about 30 years, but still has a very strong accent. And her clothes? Well that’s interesting. Some days she wears something that looks Eritrean (or what I imagine Eritrean traditional dress might be) ~ brightly-colored, sort of a wrap, maybe with a scarf too. Other days she wears a Hawaiian muu-muu, but with a gray t-shirt underneath so she doesn’t get cold.
The rest of the time ~ most of the time ~ she wears gray sweatpants, a t-shirt and a white cardigan. Her clothes could be described, as this verse says, as “shabby”.
But Sarah is a treasure. She doesn’t share much in our group, but what she does is direct truth. She doesn’t even do the homework, per se. But she reads the passage, and reads the questions, and makes a little mark next to the ones she wants to answer. And when those questions come up, she tells us all how much Jesus loves us, and that He died for us, and that He hears us and is near us. And she tells us how much she loves the Lord, and how much she loves each of us.
She is lovely and speaks truth and light and encouragement, every time she speaks. I can’t even tell you how many times she has told me that I’m beautiful. See? Encouraging.
This passage in James is about partiality. It’s about “preferring” those who appear to be well-off, and slighting those whose appearance is shabby or poor, or maybe off-putting.
Sarah is often rather shabby-looking. But to not know her; to ignore her is to be deprived. I’m blessed to know her.