A longtime pet peeve of mine has been the lack of appreciation regarding punctuality, especially as it relates to arriving on time for church services. I'm not talking about the occasional lateness due to some unforeseen circumstance but the habitual practice of being late due to a complete lack of concern for arriving on time to worship with the saints. A lack of punctuality is a clear lack of respect for others, first it does not give "honor" or "preference to one another" (Romans 12:10) and it neither "esteem others better than himself." (Philippians 2:3) including our Lord Jesus Christ, Who promises to honor us with His presence when "two or three are gathered together" (Matthew 18:20 I know it's out of context but you get the point) in His name. But I wonder how many of us who practice such sluggishness on the Lord's Day are always prompt to their jobs or a doctor's appointment and still think they are putting Christ first?
The habitual practice of tardiness often robs us of opportunities because it does not communicate faithfulness or trustworthiness. Consider the missed opportunity to visit with the brethren before the service or class and share in prayer request or the first hymn sung to our Lord, and not to mention the more obvious when visitors arrive who often are never late and the impression it must leave on them when the class or congregation is distracted with a late arrival. For how can one expect to be seen “faithful in much” when they can’t even be “faithful in a very little”? (Luke 16:10)
And how can one expect to be trusted if they are seen as unfaithful?
Arriving late is also frustrating, imagine the amount of time the Sunday School teacher or Pastor spends preparing all week to feed the sheep with the Word of God and then one comes in late without even an apology can be very frustrating not only for the Pastor/Teacher but the class/congregation and may prompt resentment towards the offending party who is clearly not communicating a “good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21) attitude in serving the Lord with the brethren and reeks of selfishness and pride.
To continue in a pattern of tardiness is sinful because it expresses a lack of love for others and is just plain rude, and “love is not rude” (1 Corinthians 13:5). If others perceive that we are unloving or rude then our reputation as a Christian will suffer. "A good name is better than precious ointment" (Ecclesiastes 7:1). Our lack of punctuality is neither making a good name for ourselves or a good reputation as a Christian. Now I have heard those who say well “better late than never”; and that may suffice for worldlings, but “better never late” should be the Christian mindset. As Christian we should not be known for always being late; it’s a bad testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ, and it does not honor Him or glorify Him. Punctuality should always characterize the servant of Christ.