While visiting a local farmers’ market last week, I stopped by a stall selling one of my favorite kinds of food: hummus! At this particular stand, however, the vendor behind the table was doling out free samples on pita pieces that were about a quarter of the size of a thumbnail. I had to keep my eyes on it to make sure it didn’t disappear in the painstaking transaction from his hand to mine. With barely a corner to hold on to, you had to tip your head back and just kind of throw it into your mouth in order to eat it.
The vendor asked the guy next to me how he liked his sample. He hesitated and then said, “Well, I couldn’t really taste anything, it was too small!” The seller got defensive, blaming the sample sizes on his miserly boss who was trying to keep up profits.
After my “samplette,” I moseyed on to the hummus stand next door run by an energetic young Arab man. “Are you Korean? Japanese? Chinese?” he quizzed me right away. “How do you say ‘hi’ in Chinese? How do you say ‘How are you’? What do you mean, they are the same thing?”
As he rattled on, he put one, two, then three palm-sized pita samples in my hand, each dripping with either garlic hummus, red pepper hummus, or artichoke hummus. I worked meticulously through them between answering his questions, but the moment I cleaned off one pita slice, I had two more in my hand. Each flavor seemed more delicious than the last, but finally I had to tell him to stop giving me samples, I was so afraid I was going to lose my grip and drop them all!
He shrugged at my declination and unloaded the waiting sample onto the pile the guy next to me was also trying to juggle without dropping. (It was the same guy who had complained at the previous stall—I guess we were both die-hard hummus samplers.) After I taught the vendor how to flirt in Chinese to the next Chinese female customer, or at least start a conversation, I could not walk away without buying something. Despite the 3 for $10 sign, I apologetically held up the only 3 $1 bills I had on me, and he gladly took it in exchange for my newly crowned favorite, a tub of garlic and chives hummus.
As I walked away from the increasingly crowded stall with one more container of hummus than I had planned on buying, I couldn’t help but think that THIS is how you sell hummus. He was the best hummus evangelist I had ever met! He clearly enjoyed selling hummus (and possibly interacting with female hummus customers even more). He wasn’t afraid that if he gave out a big sample, that the customers would snatch it and run and not buy anything. He trusted that if it truly was good hummus, they would get hooked—or at least feel bad enough to not buy some.
While we shouldn’t ever guilt people into accepting the gospel, it struck me that
that if I truly believe in God’s grace, and that it is the best version of grace out there, I shouldn’t be afraid to give it out generously. Too often I am afraid of showing too much grace (“They don’t deserve it!”), thinking that they may take it for granted and squander it away. Yet by miserly doling out mere drops of grace, it only reflects poorly on the Master I serve. Knowing how much grace God has poured out on us—“while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)—should make us liberally heap on God’s grace to those around us, trusting that those who have tasted it and seen that it is good will want to find out how they could get more for themselves.
“But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20).