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Where Are All the Black Hats

By: Dr. Skip Myers
web posted March 20, 2006
Edgefielddaily.com columnist

I love old westerns. Partially because it is so easy to tell who is who. The good guys were clean shaven, bathed, polite, and they always wore white hats. The bad guys on the other hand were dirty, scruffy, mean-faced and they always wore black hats. This apparent difference carried over into just about every aspect of the characters. Bad guys talked bad; good guys talked good; good girls wore calico dresses; saloon girls were frilly and revealing. As you watched the plot unfold, you already knew the ending: good would triumph over evil and the good cowboy always got the good girl! Yheehaw!

Now I’m not one of these that pine for the good old days. I believe if you have the Lord you are right in the middle of your good days each and every day. But in our modern day a new character in the movie of life has taken center stage. He doesn’t wear a black hat identifying him as a bad guy and he doesn’t wear the white hat of a good guy. This character dresses well, talks good, and is acceptable to a growing number of people. It’s hard to tell the color of his hat. At times it looks white and at times it looks black. It’s really a grayish color.

People aren’t sure how to approach the grey-hat but they are learning just how useful he can be in our society. You see,  the grey-hat is becoming widely accepted because it provides its wearer with a great deal of flexibility. With the grey hat, you don’t really have to take a stand on anything and you can make most things seem okay. You don’t pronounce anything right or wrong because your hat is grey, a combination of two extremes that no one wants to be associated with today.

Grey hats have become fashionable because everyone is now the standard for right and wrong. When society is left to dictate what is acceptable the standards fluctuate from generation to generation. No one generation has been flawless. When you think about it the previous generation has created the possibilities that the current generation is fulfilling. Truly the Bible is right when it tells us that, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” 

Wearing a grey hat also allows us to justify personal practices and beliefs that will ultimately do us harm. There are verses in the Bible that remind us that, while we think things have gotten so bad, people have been people for as long as there have been people. Proverbs 16:2 is such a verse, All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives. Grey hats have actually been around for a long time.

We all practice the fine art of personal justification. What I am doing is right in my own eyes and I will find a standard somewhere that supports my claim. And if there’s not such a standard presently on the books, I will make one up and get it passed. All of this may seem wonderfully convenient but there is a downside to it.

There really aren’t any grey areas of life when we put what we are doing up against the character of God. His nature either enhances the brightness of the right or darkens the nature of the wrong. And the great thing about Him is that His standard never changes. And it never changes not because He is controlling and condemning but rather, since His standard is perfect in the first place, why would it need changing. All that is left is for us to submit to His desire for us to be better than what we are now. He cannot claim to love us and leave us to live by our own changing and ultimately less than perfect standard.

If you are tired of trying to figure out what is and what is not, listen to these words in Psalm 119:9-11: How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. God has set the standard so that you can find the joy of life; not so you can judge the actions of others. Try looking in the mirror before you ever point a finger.

Remember, the good Guy has already won. Christ has won and now shares the victory with those who want Him. It’s not a matter of simply finding a standard to determine right from wrong but rather, finding a relationship where the standard of love never changes.  The peace of mind this brings is truly priceless.

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