Timothy's Tears

J. D. Conley
August 24, 2014

Long is the list of Bible characters whose tear ducts were opened: Job, Jeremiah, David, Paul, Peter, the sinful woman, as well as our perfect Savior. Yet how many are aware of the tears shed by the young preacher Timothy? The apostle Paul makes mention of Timothy's tears in his second epistle addressed to him saying, "Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy" (2 Tim. 1:4). What was the occasion for these tears of Timothy? We aren’t told. Why the lacrid droplets streamed down his cheeks is not disclosed, only that they did. Nor or we informed as to how many times the young evangelist wept and shed tears. Nevertheless, tears are often the lot of all gospel preachers, young and old. But speculation based on Scripture can be set forth to offer an explanation for Timothy's tears. Were they brought on by:

Paul's Departure? The occasion of the apostle leaving Timothy at Ephesus as he went into Macedonia may have been the occasion for Timothy's tears. Concerning that departure Paul says he "besought" Timothy to stay at Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3), indicating perhaps a great desire for Timothy to accompany Paul on his Macedonian trip. These two men shared a father/son relationship (1Tim.1:2, 2Tim.1:2), as well as a love for the Truth, (2Tim.1 :5, 4:2). Their separation at Ephesus must have been fraught with emotion and angst.

Personal Struggles As A Preacher? Timothy was a remarkable and rare young man, but he was still only a man. The responsibilities that were placed upon his shoulders were quite heavy. He was expected to combat false teaching (1 Tim.1:3-4; 4:1-3; 2Tim.3:1ff. 4:1-4). Taking a stand against false teaching is not just the act itself, but necessarily involves a defense of the truth coupled with an attempt to convince the false teacher of his error. This is never easy, especially for a younger preacher. He was also required to "...watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of his ministry" (2Tim.4:5). Meeting these four obligations alone would no doubt lead to the welling up of tears in Timothy's eyes. A preacher's watching, enduring, working and proving often bring about tears that cannot be held back.

Paul's Imprisonment And Impending Death? This too may have been the reason for Timothy's tears. Coping with the apostle's arrest and incarceration in Rome must have been extremely difficult for him, knowing full well his friend, father-figure and mentor had an appointment with the executioner.

His Initial Instruction In The Faith? Tears often accompany one's initial exposure to Christianity. Tears of sorrow as well as tears of joy, roll down the faces of those who learn the truth and desire to obey it. This, or all of the above may have been the reason for the tears shed by this godly young man.

The shedding of tears for the right reason is understandable and noble. Tears that fall due to spiritual reasons are commendable, whereas tears shed in self pity are loathsome. Do your tears resemble Timothy's? Please know that these are the type of tears God has promised to wipe away, (Rev.21:4).