News of a simple act of kindness on a New York subway has gone around the world. A young black man, head covered by a hooded sweatshirt, fell asleep on the shoulder of an older Jewish passenger, whom the media identified as Isaac Thiel. When Mr. Theil let the sleepy stranger take a little catnap on his shoulder, he said it was because, “I simply remembered the times my own head would bop on someone’s shoulder because I was so tired after a long day.”
Another subway rider was so struck by Theil's nonchalant empathy that he snapped a picture and posted it to Facebook with the caption, “Heading home on the Q train yesterday when this young black guy nods off on the shoulder of a Jewish man. The man doesn't move a muscle, just lets him stay there. After a minute, I asked the man if he wanted me to wake the kid up, but he shook his head and responded, ‘He must have had a long day, let him sleep. We've all been there, right?’”
“The greatest thing a man can do for a Heavenly Father,” said Henry Drummond, “is to be kind to some of His other children.” And Frederick William Faber commented, “Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning.” Someone else has suggested that “If you want to surprise someone these days just be kind to them.” Interesting don’t you think? Kindness isn't something we expect from others or ourselves anymore. Just think for a moment, when was the last time someone held the door open for you? What about a simple “Thank You” to the cashier or bag boy? What about picking up a piece of trash in the parking lot that wasn’t yours?
Paul lists kindness among the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Kindness could take the form anything from good manners, to offering your seat to someone standing up in a crowded place, or to putting coins in someone’s expired parking meter. If you catch the fever, kindness can be a lot of fun because you never know what opportunities may pop-up where you can surprise someone with a helping of grace.
In Ephesians 4:32 we read, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” In Colossians 3:12 we are to be “clothed in kindness,” among other things. Moreover, we are told in 1 Cor. 13:4 that, “love is kind.”
Of course, Jesus is the ultimate example of the kindness that makes us stop and take note. He was kind enough to save a Jewish family from embarrassment by not letting the wine run out at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-12). He was kind enough to eat lunch with Zacchaeus, a con-artist tax collector that everyone hated (Luke 19:1-9). He was kind enough to make time for rambunctious children (Mark 10:16) and kind enough to acknowledge a woman who’d been a twelve year outcast because of her disease (Mark 5:25-34).
Max Lucado has pointed out, “The kindness of Jesus. We are quick to think of His power, His passion and His devotion. But those near Him knew and know God comes cloaked in kindness. Kind enough to care about a faux pas. Kind enough to have lunch with a crook. Kind enough to bless a suffering sister. Why? Because love is kind.”
Being kind is a risk, we could be misunderstood or taken advantage of, but it is worth it. When we take the time to help someone else we're allowing God to work through us. Who knows the ripple effect our kind acts will cause! Imagine what a kindness revolution could do?
 Yasmine Hafiz, “Sleeping Stranger Subway Picture On Q Train Defines Empathy And Is A Lesson In Being Good,” Huffington Post Religion, 6 November 2013 < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/06/sleeping-stranger-subway-picture_n_4228826.html>
 Max Lucado, A Love Worth Giving (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2002), 26.