Most of us are a bit generous and a bit greedy, and our attitudes may fluctuate from day to day. Few of us are so generous as to have no need of improvement (Saint Francis and Mother Teresa come to mind).

To help you focus your own self-examination, answer the following questions. The questionnaire is a rough measure of your generosity. The questions provide only a generous and a greedy option. The import of the answer given may vary with the circumstances of the one giving the answer. It would be wrong to quantify your responses. The point is not to rate yourself, but to position yourself better to fight the spiritual battle.

  1. If I fantasize about winning a magazine sweepstakes, what most comes to mind is: (a) what I could do for others with all that money; (b) what I could buy, the vacations I could take, and the freedom to do what I want.

  2. When I hear of someone with about the same talents and energy and education as I have who earns $20,000 a year more than I do, I think: (a) how nice that he or she can earn that much money; (b) it's not fair.

  3. When someone outside my family gives me a significant gift "out of the blue": (a) I feel good about being the recipient of that person's generosity, and am comfortable with remaining in his or her "debt"; (b) I refuse it, or if I accept it I feel uncomfortable until I have given the giver something of equal or greater value.

  4. If I express my admiration for some possession of an acquaintance (a book, a painting, a piece of pottery), and the acquaintance offers to give it to me, I tend to think: (a) "This person is very generous"; (b) "What do you suppose he or she wants from me?"

  5. When I give someone a gift: (a) I am content if the person acknowledges the gift with pleasure; (b) I feel cheated if the person doesn't pretty soon do me a favor or give me a gift of equal or greater value.

  6. When I give money to the church or other charitable organization, I typically: (a) think with pleasure about the good that may be done with my money; (b) think of the things I could have done with the money if I hadn't given it away.

  7. If I lend $15 to someone I meet at a retreat: (a) I don't mind much if I never see the money again; (b) I get pretty upset if the person doesn't repay me.

  8. When I give money to the church, I do so because: (a) I like to see the church doing well; (b) I feel it wouldn't be right to not give.

  9. When I get a significant raise or come into some money: (a) it does not affect my standard of living; (b) my standard of living increases.

  1. When I get a raise or switch to a higher income job: (a) my feelings about myself don't change much; (b) I tend to feel very good about myself for a while, but soon I begin to feel "poor" again.

  2. When something of value is being distributed in a group—fish at the end of a fishing trip or leftover food at a picnic—if I can manage to get a bit more for myself than others without seeming greedy: (a) I will not do it; (b) I will do it.

  3. In a situation like those described in question 11, in order not to behave greedily: (a) I need make no effort—greed does not tempt me; (b) I have to use self-control to overcome greedy impulses.

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