KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) — One day back in 1980-something I found myself on the set of “Matlock,” a drama series that starred Andy Griffith as Ben Matlock, a good-old-boy country lawyer.
I was in the jury box with fellow “extras,” as background players are informally known in the business, trying to look involved. It was a kick to see Mr. Griffith up close as I had grown up watching his old sit-com, “The Andy Griffith Show,” on which he played Andy Taylor, a good-old-boy country sheriff.
Well, it wasn’t Andy Griffith’s finest hour that day. He was very unpleasant. We’ll leave it at that.
This was very disappointing to a fellow extra who had gained so much of his moral outlook as a boy by watching Griffith’s Andy Taylor. Extras had an out-of-the-way corner on the sound stage where they sat in foldout chairs until needed on the set. We had gathered during a break and this young man began griping to me about Mr. Griffith’s seeming hypocrisy.
Griffith’s Andy Taylor was a moral man, a patient man who was able to give guidance to Opie, Barney and Aunt Bee, setting them on a better path by the end of each episode. Sadly, Andy’s bad temper that day on Matlock was negatively affecting my co-worker’s memories of his TV hero.
I reminded my new acquaintance that the positive values he learned from Sheriff Andy Taylor about doing the right thing, being unselfish and caring for others were qualities that make for a contented life. And if Andy Griffith couldn’t live up to that standard, it didn’t invalidate the lessons his character had taught us.
Lest you get a bad impression of Andy Griffith, a few years later he was interviewed by Larry King and openly stated that he wasn’t as good a man as his Andy Taylor. He openly professed his faith as a Christian but was also honest about his failings. I surmised that the one time I got to see the legendary actor/comedian was unfortunately during one of his bad days.
No matter how Mr. Griffith was on his good days, that bad day would be the memory of him for some. And like Mr. Griffith, we all have days when people form a negative perception of us because we allow our will to trump God’s.
Although I’ve been a Christian since I was 7 and grew up in the church, attending with my parents every time the doors were open, there have been times when things of a spiritual nature took a backseat to things of the self. For that reason, there are many days I wouldn’t want to be remembered for. Even with age, which is supposed to bring wisdom, it can be said that there are still times when the flesh and the devil detour me from being a good representative for Jesus.
Anybody relating? Or am I the only faulty Christian?
So how do we prevent ourselves from being governed by the bad days?
You can’t. Not always. Even Peter, just moments after declaring who Jesus is, had to be reprimanded by our Lord for attempting to be a stumbling block (Matthew 16:15-16,23).
I’m finding it isn’t just a daily walk we need with our Savior, but a moment-by-moment desire to walk with Him. But can we really desire to be more like Jesus every moment of the day?
Probably not, for we are human. The apostle Paul said in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
That said, there are ways of seeing that our good days outnumber the bad. The following has been good advice for me. On my good days, I follow it.
Stay in tune with God through His Word and fellowship with believers. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in prayer, in study and in relationships. Keep spiritual matters at the core of your existence. And when you stumble, don’t waste time declaring yourself a hypocrite. Rather, pick yourself up, ask God for forgiveness and go on. You’ll still make mistakes, but reading God’s Word and living a Christ-centered life will “armor you up” against the agendas of the flesh, the world and the devil.