When I was a kid, westerns were a lot more popular than they seem to be today. Whether it was television or the movies, for the most part they were basic morality plays. It was the good guys versus the bad guys, and the good guys always won. Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, John Wayne, The Lone Ranger, the list of heroes was a long one.

One thing that was pretty standard in just about all of the shows was that the good guys always wore white hats and the bad guys always wore black ones. There were a few exceptions but, generally speaking, if a guy was wearing a black hat you could just about bet he was up to no good. By the end of the show he was either in jail or dead.

If only it were that easy to tell who the bad guys are in real life. Somebody offers to sell you something at a bargain price...wait, he's wearing a black hat, that means he's a crook! No thanks, I'll pass on that offer. Or maybe your daughter brings home her new boyfriend to meet you. Hey, he's wearing a white hat so everything is just fine.

Unfortunately it doesn't work like that in real life. In fact, at first glance the bad guys sometimes appear to be more "honest" than the genuine good guys.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."

Everyone's true character will ultimately become apparent. "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord,' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" Matthew 7:20-21.

The next time something seems to be too good to be true, you would be wise to not make a snap judgment based on hat colour alone. A little in-depth research might reveal the fruit has a few rotten spots on it...or maybe not. Just don't take things at face value. Check them out.

Alan Graff