“Opie’s Charity,” the November 28, 1960 episode of Andy Griffith, begins with a conversation between Andy and one of the townsfolk by the name of Annabelle. That conversation centers around Tom, Annabelle’s late husband, who was supposedly run over by a taxi cab and killed while on a business trip two years prior. With great pride and joy, Annabelle and Andy discuss the wonderful funeral held for Tom. The conversation reveals the fact that Tom was a “heavy drinker.” Later in the episode, as Andy leaves the jailhouse, he encounters Tom on the sidewalk, who after two years is returning to Mayberry. Tom wasn’t killed; he simply left his “nagging wife.” Annabelle contrived the story of him being run over to avoid embarrassment. Shortly thereafter, Tom and Andy visit his grave, where they discuss his funeral in great detail. At the end of the show Andy and Tom discuss the events that transpired now that he and Annabelle were back together. Tom tells Andy that he and Annabelle recently visited the cemetery “where I’m buried.” To which Andy replies, “you sound like you are beginning to believe you really are buried over there.” Tom replies, “the Tom Silby who drank too much, he is buried over there.”
There is a great spiritual lesson in that episode for all Christians. The Apostle Paul wrote “that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Romans 6:6)
Paul also talked about putting “to death (mortify) your members which are on the earth” (Colossians 3:5). And to the church at Ephesus he said, “that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
Tom Silby was content to leave the grave marker up as a reminder that the “Old Tom” was dead. We as Christians have buried “the old man,” that being the old nature of sin and enslavement, and as a result we are not a slave to sin anymore! Perhaps you need a “mental grave marker,” a reminder that you are no longer a slave to sin, but a new person in Jesus Christ! And don’t dig up the dead that stinks!
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).