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                      "THE VIRTUE OF PUNCTUALITY"


1. A longtime concern of mine has been the lack of appreciation
   regarding punctuality...
   a. "the quality or habit of adhering to an appointed time"
   b. "strict observance in keeping engagements, promptness; antonym:

2. Especially as it relates to arriving on time for services of the
   a. Not the occasional lateness due to unforeseen circumstances
   b. But the habitual practice of being late due to a lack of concern
      of being on time

3. Is there a need for concern regarding the lack of punctuality...?
   a. Evidently not in the mind of many Christians
   b. Yet I believe it has an adverse effect on the spiritual growth and
      health of a congregation

[To appreciate the basis for my concern, let's first consider some...]


      1. "The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to
         appreciate it." - Franklin Jones
      2. "I am a believer in punctuality though it makes me very
         lonely." - E. V. Verrall
      3. "Laugh and the world laughs with you, be prompt and you dine
         alone." - Gerald Barzan

      1. "Promptitude is not only a duty, but is also a part of good
         manners; it is favorable to fortune, reputation, influence,
         and usefulness; a little attention and energy will form the
         habit, so as to make it easy and delightful." - Charles Simmons
      2. "I give it as my deliberate and solemn conviction that the
         individual who is habitually tardy in meeting an appointment,
         will never be respected or successful in life." - W. Fisk
      3. "Punctuality is the soul of business." - Thomas C. Haliburton
      4. "Punctuality is one of the cardinal business virtues: always
         insist on it in your subordinates." - Don Marquis
      5. "I owe all my success in life to having been always a quarter
         of an hour before my time." - Lord Nelson
      6. "Punctuality is the politeness of kings." - Louis XVIII

[One might wonder whether punctuality is really all that important.  How
about for the Christian, is it a sin to be habitually late for one's
appointments?  Consider some of the...]


      1. Lack of punctuality is a theft of someone else's time
         a. Especially as an employee who is late for work
         b. But even as friends (or brethren), where we have agreed to
            meet at a set time
            1) "If I have made an appointment with you, I owe you
               punctuality, I have no right to throw away your time, if
               I do my own." - Richard Cecil
            2) "Unfaithfulness in the keeping of an appointment is an
               act of clear dishonesty. You may as well borrow a
               person's money as his time." - Horace Mann
      2. Lack of punctuality is a lack of respect for others
         a. E.g., our brethren whom we are to honor - Ro 12:10; Php 2:3
         b. Including our Lord, Who honors us with His presence - cf. Mt
         c. Most would be unlikely to be late for an appointment with
            someone whom they want to honor (e., the President, or a
            boss at work)
         d. If we honor others better than ourselves, we will make it a
            point to be on time when meeting with them
         e. "Few things tend more to alienate friendship than a want of
            punctuality in our engagements. I have known the breach of a
            promise to dine or sup to break up more than one intimacy."
            - William Hazlitt
      3. Lack of punctuality is a violation of the Golden Rule
         a. We are treat others as we would want to be treated - Mt 7:12
         b. Are you not bothered when others are late in meeting you?
         c. Suppose you were teaching a class, and half the class was
            consistently late?
            1) How would that make you feel about your efforts?
            2) Not only during class, but the time spent in preparation?
      4. Lack of punctuality is a violation of the Greatest Commandment
         a. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and
            strength - Mk 12:30
         b. "...when we are late for these meetings to worship God or to
            learn of God, it may be indicative God is not really as
            important as whatever causes us to be late, be it our bodily
            rest, our meals, our recreation, our chores, etc. We are, of
            course, not saying that all lateness for the appointed means
            would fall into this sin. But if we are habitually late for
            the means, we must really examine our attitude towards the
            Lord. One who is generally on time for other appointments
            but is usually late for worship or prayer is probably
            experiencing severe backsliding. One who is generally late
            for all appointments is probably also suffering some form of
            tardiness in the soul. No one who genuinely loves Christ can
            be late for an appointment with Him without feeling shame
            and embarrassment." - Pilgrim Covenant Church web site

      1. What others have said in this regard
         a. "Tardiness often robs us opportunity, and the dispatch of
            our forces." - Niccolo Machiavelli
         b. "The best-laid plans, the most important affairs, the
            fortunes of individuals, the weal of nations, honor, life
            itself, are daily sacrificed because somebody is 'behind
            time.' There are men who always fail in whatever they
            undertake simply because they are 'behind time.' There are
            others who put off reformation year by year, till death
            seizes them; and they perish unrepentant, because for ever
            'behind time.' Five minutes in a crisis is worth years. It
            is but a little period, yet it has often saved a fortune or
            redeemed a people. If there is one virtue that should be
            cultivated more than another by him who would succeed in
            life, it is punctuality; if there is one error that should
            be avoided, it is being 'behind time.'" - Freeman Hunt
      2. Think of the missed opportunities when we are late to services
         of the church
         a. The opportunity to visit with brethren and visitors (more on
            this below)
         b. The opportunity to be of service should there be a last
            minute need
         c. The opportunity to hear some point, some truth, that was
            presented prior to arriving late

[Have we squandered opportunities due to our lack of punctuality?  Let's
take a look at the...]


      1. Who often arrive early themselves
         a. It being their first time, they often allow more time to
            find the location
         b. It being an opportunity for us to welcome them and briefly
            visit with them
         c. OTOH, what must they think when there are no teachers to
            welcome their children, or when classes or services start
            and half the congregation is absent?
      2. After services have begun
         a. There will not be the distraction of others arriving 5-10-15
            minutes late
         b. They will observe the participation of the entire
      3. When the services are over
         a. The visitors will likely leave quickly
         b. Often the only time we have to visit with them is before the

      1. It will make us better persons
         a. "I have always been a quarter of an hour before my time, and
            it has made a man of me." - Lord Nelson
         b. "I could never think well of a man's intellectual or moral
            character, if he was habitually unfaithful to his
            appointments." - Nathaniel Emmons
      2. It will make us better servants
         a. Providing service to our visitors through meeting them
            before as well as after
         b. Providing service to our brethren by edifying them through
            your prompt presence
         c. Providing service to our Lord by honoring Him with your
            punctual arrival


1. I hope that I have encouraged you to appreciate "The Virtue Of
   a. "Better three hours too soon than a minute too late." - William
   b. As someone else said: "Better late than never, but better never

2. How to be on time, one may ask?  It really quite simple...
   a. Plan to be early, and start out early
   b. Plan to arrive 15 minutes before services begin

"Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all
things." - cf. 2Ti 2:7
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