If you are a follower of the old “Andy Griffith Show,” you will well remember Otis, the town drunk, who periodically checks himself into jail to sleep off his hangover. Otis is a lovable character, who never hurts anybody else, although he doesn’t know how to handle the bottle.
One show had an interesting development. Otis received a letter from his brother, telling him he was coming to visit. Otis had foolishly told his brother that he was a deputy sheriff, and didn’t know what to do. Andy, who always tried to accommodate anyone, offered to let Otis become a temporary deputy, only while his brother was in town. The catch was that Otis had to stay sober. Of course, his wife wouldn’t believe it was true until he destroyed his hidden liquor at home.
Everything went according to plan when his brother came, and Otis was even strong enough to refuse to drink on duty when his brother asked him to go get a drink. Otis wanted to make sure that his brother knew that he was a success, not the failure that his brother expected him to be.
But then something completely unexpected happened. Otis kept expecting to get caught in his masquerade, but then his brother did the unimaginable. As Otis looked on in surprise, his brother came into the jail drunk, and checked himself in just like Otis did every weekend. The brother was appropriately sorry as Otis lectured him on how he had let down the whole family by his actions.
Andy’s lesson to Otis was that he shouldn’t have been so self-conscious about trying to impress others. But I believe there was another lesson. Otis had the chance to see himself as he really was. He had a chance to hear, “Thou art the man.”
You see, when King David stole Uriah’s wife, and then had Uriah killed to cover up his sin, he thought he really had covered up everything. But then Nathan told him a story about a rich man who took a poor man’s one ewe lamb to feed a traveling visitor. David was incensed about this man’s wickedness and vowed a fourfold retribution, and that the man should die. Nathan boldly concluded, “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). To his credit, David responded in penitence, and accepted his punishment. But Otis never changed. He never reformed. He could see how his brother embarrassed him, but he never saw himself. How about you? Have you had a “Thou art the man” experience? How did you respond?