Have you ever been around someone who is perpetually late? I am not talking about someone who runs late every once in a while, but someone who you can depend on to be late almost every time there is a time set for something to happen. I admit that it is a pet peeve of mine when people are always late, but I believe it is so because of my Christian convictions. I see being on time as a godly characteristic. If we are to “be holy as I am holy” and be “conformed into the image of Jesus,” I think we would do well to be conscience of our timeliness. There are a variety of reasons why I see this to be true, but I want to give you three to think about today.
God is the God of Truth
Jesus made many statements about truth. In John 14:6 He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” In John 8:32 He said, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” On the flip side, the adversary of Christ and every Christian is Satan. Satan is called a “liar” and the “father of lies” (John 8:44). This shows us that he who is not a truth-teller is acting unholy. A passage that my father repeated to me as a child was James 5:12. James writes: “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” Being on time is a matter of truth and of keeping one’s word. As the Bible teaches compressively, the Lord is the Lord of all truth. The Lord is the Lord of honesty. If we are being conformed to His image, then our word about timeliness matters. It matters to God, and thus should matter to you.
God is the God of Time
Time, and timing, matters to God. Jesus repeatedly said in His ministry “My time has not yet come” (John 2:4, John 4:23, John 5:28, John 7:6). Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4, “In the fullness of time He came.” Even when Mary and Martha thought Jesus was late because of their brother’s death, He was still on time (John 11). God is a God or precision. He is sovereign and providential and has all things planned to the exact second. R.C. Sproul says, “There is no maverick molecule if God is sovereign.” Because God is sovereign, He is always on time, even if we don’t see it that way. If God is always on time, we too should strive for this.
God is the God of Love
Ultimately, the reason I see timeliness as a characteristic of God is because of His selfless love. While the first and primary reason Christ died was out of obedience in fulfilling His Father’s will, closely tied to it was His sacrifice for His people. When we are continually late it communicates to others that your time is more important than theirs. It says that you are more important than others. Paul writes in Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Since Jesus loved us so much, He put our desperate eternal need above His temporary agonizing pain. In this sense (although we need to be careful taking this thought too far), He put our needs above His own desires. This is what we do when we make sure that we are on time. We put others before ourselves. There is no mistaking that this type of living is a godly quality.
If you struggle to always be on time then I hope that you consider these things in light of your relationship with God. God is truth, so we need to always be truthful. God is timely in all that He does . . . as should we be. God is love. Being on time is a way of showing our love toward another. So, if you need to get out of bed 15 minutes early to make sure that you are prompt in your arrival time to work or church, change your alarm clock. If stopping at the drive-thru is going to make you late for your meeting, consider which is worth more: that cup of coffee, or keeping your word. Take the words of Solomon in Proverbs 22:1 to heart: “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth . . .” If you are habitually late, it is affecting your name, and your name is tied to the Lord. Live up to it.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Adam B Burrell