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Punctuality is the practice of being prompt, especially in keeping an appointment or engagement; it is observing, or doing, at the precise exact time.

There are some responsible souls out there who can be depended upon to do whatever they are expected or asked to do at the very time they are supposed to do it. And then there’s me; and maybe you, too. There is virtually no difference between the punctual person and the one who is habitually late, save for this: the person who is prompt realizes and fully appreciates the value of time.

The person who is on time has the exact same amount of seconds, minutes and hours in a full day that everyone else has; they just use and budget that time more wisely, more efficiently. Are the people who complain about not having enough time far busier than those who are punctual? Of course, such could be the case, but the more probable likelihood is that they have adopted the habit of “putting off.”

We read that God’s word encourages us to make the most of our time; to use the time we have wisely, and to make sure we prioritize properly. As we read in Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins, we see the dangers in “putting off.” In Matt. 25:1-10 we read that when the bridegroom finally came to call his guests into the feast, the foolish virgins were not where they were supposed to be because of procrastination and poor prioritization. They were late to the party, and by the time they arrived, “the door was shut.” We read that they were not welcomed as guests because of their irresponsibility. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

The apostle Paul told the Colossians to “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time” (Col. 4:5). Also, to the Galatians, he wrote: “Let us not grow weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9).

The time we have here is a great blessing, one of the greatest we have, and we need to be better stewards of it. Using the time God gives us wisely is a trait we can all acquire, because punctuality is just a habit, not an inherent behavior; it’s a choice that we all make.

Britain’s greatest naval commander, and possibly the greatest military leader in that country’s long history, Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson once testified, “I owe all my success in life to having been always a quarter of an hour beforehand.” Fifteen minutes made all the difference in the world in the success of this man, and in turn, all the difference to a whole nation. We can’t know what affect even the smallest amount of time can have in our lives; we should not be careless with it.

To make punctuality one of our traits we very well might have to take stock of our life and see if we “make the most of our time,” as Paul advocates. If we regulate our hours to do our work first, and then use leftover time for us as our own to do with as we please, we may find that much of our work can get done promptly and the time belonging to us will be more pleasant than when we are trying to take our leisure first and delay our responsibilities.

Paul Seely
Penngrove church of Christ
Penngrove, CA

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