I was thinking about Andy as sheriff the past couple of days and how open handed he was with the good folks of Mayberry. Although he represented the law and authority of his small town, he had a generous spirit that believed in the people under his authority.
Andy was not the type to grip the reins of his authority so tightly that the townspeople chaffed under his dominance. He never looked for some small infraction or obscure perceived offense to throw the book at someone or look over their shoulder too closely. Even with Barney who made mistake after mistake, Andy always believed in him and gave Barney every opportunity to prove himself rather than looking for opportunities to catch Barney in an offense.
Comparing Andy to the mayor and others in positions of authority in Mayberry, the others pale in comparison to their wise sheriff. They looked for the bad in people. They gripped their small piece of authority tightly and wielded it to force people to tow the line. Andy quietly and gracefully led by example and love. He didn’t need to exercise his “authority” over and over… he simply led by it, going less by the book of the law and more by the heart
His loving parenting of Opie followed a similar pattern. He may not have always understood what was going on in Opie’s young mind, but as he stated in the beloved Mr. McBeeVee episode, he did believe in Opie. He had brought Opie up to “act like somebody” by his own example, by his time spent with Opie, by following the Good Book, and by his stories and allegories. He rarely needed to resort to a harsh punishment to reinforce his authority. Telling Opie he was disappointed usually sufficed.
I think that’s why we all love Andy so much. He allowed the people of Mayberry – the Ernest Ts, the Barneys, the Miss Crumps, Ellie Walkers and young Opie to be themselves, and he was never heavy handed with anyone. If someone made a mistake, Andy usually tried to help them see it for themselves rather than use his authority to put them in their place. Impetuous Barney always wanted more authority to force people to “nip it in the bud!” Andy usually believed folks could be trusted to police themselves.
That is why Andy didn’t need the gun and why we laugh at Barney and his one bullet. Andy’s quiet authority needed no weapon. Barney’s weapon carried no authority. As Sheriff Taylor said himself, “When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he’s getting might really be fear. So I don’t carry a gun because I don’t want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I’d rather they respect me.” Too bad more folks aren’t like Andy.
Rom. 13:10. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
John 1:17. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth come by Jesus Christ.
Related Stories & Links:
We’re Not in Mayberry Anymore
— Old Wood and Wine
Past Mayberry Articles
Christian Activities Mayberry
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