Nam Jai

The word jai in Thai means “heart,” and it is such an important concept to the Thais that the word can be compounded with over one hundred other words.  A few examples:

  • Hen jai (see + heart) is the ability to “see into the heart” or “sympathy.”
  • Jai dum (heart + black) is “a cruel lack of humanity.”
  • Jai boon (heart + merit) means “generous and full of merit.”
  • Sabai jai (wellness + heart) means “easy going” or “comfortable.”
  • Kao jai (enter + heart) means “understanding.”

The term nam jai (water + heart) means “water from the heart” and is used to describe genuine acts of kindness.  It implies that these acts of kindness are done without any expectations – with no strings attached.

When someone brings food to the office to share with everyone else, or when a stranger stops to help when your car stalls in a parking lot… that’s nam jai.  When your neighbor comes over to help you fix a leaky faucet, or when a local takes you to your destination rather than just giving you directions, that’s nam jai. 

Nam jai is grace.  It’s unmerited favor.  It’s a gift that doesn’t have to be or cannot be repaid.  It’s what all Christians are called to show to those around them.  We should be looking for opportunities to practice nam jai everywhere we go and with everyone we meet.  Think of the difference it would make in this world if we did!

Jesus set the example for us.  Read the Gospel accounts, and you’ll see that He practiced nam jai throughout His ministry.  From healing the sick to raising the dead to allowing the little ones to come to Him, His life here on earth was a constant “pouring of water from the heart.”  But even more, His death.  Read John 19:31-35 with new eyes:

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath.  Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.  The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.  But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.  Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.  The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true.  He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.

That sudden flow of blood and water from Jesus’ heart was the ultimate Nam Jai.  God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense (G-R-A-C-E).  Through His death, we have life – and not just life, but abundant life.  If we’re doing it right, our cups should be overflowing.  And if our cups are overflowing, why not share a little with those around us.


1 Comment

Filed under Interpersonal, Religion, Spirituality

One response to “Nam Jai

  1. mike

    thanks for inspiring me to be a better Christian. May we always try and be selfless especially to those that don’t ask for it or deserve it. that’s when it means the most.

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