Philotimo (pron: 'filotimo') – according to Saint Paisios - is the spontaneous, self-sacrificing love shown by humble (not arrogant or prideful) people, from whom every trace of self has been filtered out, full of gratitude towards God and their fellow men.
Philotimo does not exist in any other language. Greek people have a few shortcomings, but at least they have two gifts from God;
Philotimo comes from a deep, abiding (Lasting for a long time; enduring) connection with God, so that one is constantly moved to do and seek that which is good, right, and honourable (with high respect). Out of spiritual sensitivity, such people try to repay the slightest good that others do for them. Philotimo is that deep-seated awareness in the heart that motivates (incentive or a reason for doing something) the good that a person does. If God sees a little ‘philotimo’ a bit of a good disposition, He offers His Grace (the infused (to be permeated with something) presence of God) abundantly and intoxicates (excites) you, even from this life. The spiritual delight one receives and the transformation he feels in his heart when the Grace of God (benevolence to the undeserving) visits him, cannot be given, even by the best cardiologist in the world. Philotimo has descernment(exhibiting keen insight and good judgment)1, sensitivity and nobility; it has everything. The person who has this philotimo is not a fool; he may be wronged, but he has Christ in his heart; for the most wronged person is Christ.
Philotimo is the devout (devotion to religion) quintessence (concentrated essence) of goodness; the most grateful love which is all goodness and humility. It is the polished love of a humble person who does not put his own self whatsoever into whatever he does, and whose heart is full of spiritual refinement, sensitivity and gratefulness to God and to the images of God, his fellow human beings.
People who have philotimo melt away inwardly, out of gratitude to God, which they express through every spiritual means, as children of God. Since they move about in the heavenly sphere of doxology (expression of praise to God)2, they even gladly accept trials and tribulations. They glorify God for their difficulties as well as for their blessings, and thus, constantly receive the blessing of God.
People that have philotimo are indeed noble souls. They go through agonies over the slightest good others do for them and try to return the favor; but, no matter what they do, they never feel they have done enough, and they never forget it. Philotimo has NO LIMITS. It’s one great, continuous spiritual foolhardiness (reckless, foolishly adventurous and bold). Divine Grace does not come without philotimo.
A person with philotimo never struggles for consolation (comfort in sorrow, misfortune, or distress)3 and satisfaction. And if God does not grant him Paradise, he will not be troubled about it, for he does not say to himself, “Let me struggle so I can go to Paradise, so I can live well and not suffer in Hell.” You should carry out your spiritual struggle – not to be sanctified (made holy)4, but rather to bring joy to Christ. On the contrary, it is out of philotimo that he does not sin, because he doesn’t want to go to Hell and thereby cause pain to Christ, his benefactor (a well-doer; one who does good). Even if Christ were to tell him that He will have to endure suffering in Paradise, he would still want to go there for the sake of Christ.
One who only loves his benefactor (a well doer; one who does good) is not doing anything remarkable, although even that kind of philotimo does not exist these days. People in the past were full of philotimo. If the philotimo one has is pure, then he has self-denial. The more a person removes his own self from his love, the more philotimo he acquires.
Whoever has philotimo does not react when he is asked to help, nor does he say how much work he does. If you have started on the journey of monasticism5 in order to receive praises, it is a waste of your time.
Think and ask yourselves “Do I have philotimo?” To give from our deficiency is what has value. Let’s suppose I have 3 pillows, and I give away the extra one. My action has no value. However, if I give away the one I sleep on, then my action does have value because it is a sacrifice.
discernment - insight; a power to see what is not evident to the average mind / exhibiting keen insight and good judgment
doxology - An expression of praise to God, especially a short hymn sung as part of a Christian worship service.
consolation -Comfort in sorrow, misfortune, or distress
sanctified - Made holy; consecrated
monasticism - The monastic life or system, especially as practiced in a monastery.