vs. Tardiness
Showing high esteem for other people and their time

Key Verse

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1

The operational definition of punctuality is “showing high esteem for other people and their time.” Time is a valuable resource given by God to every person. How a person chooses to use this resource often affects others’ lives. Unlike money, time cannot be saved up. Once time has passed, you cannot retrieve it. A significant way to show kindness to others is to be careful not to waste their time. If you are late, they cannot recover the time they lost while waiting for you. When you value other people and their time, you will be punctual so that none of their time is wasted. You can plan ahead and allow extra time in your day in case you have an unexpected delay. When you love others as yourself, you will do everything possible to respect their time as much as you do your own.

A punctual person arrives on time or even early so that he doesn’t miss appointments, such as catching a bus or causing others to wait for him.
A tardy person runs behind schedule and often arrives late, which then complicates life for himself and sometimes for others as well.

The opposite of punctuality is tardiness. A tardy person is late and does not honor the time commitments he has made. He selfishly does what he wants to do without considering how it will inconvenience others. He may wait until the last minute to start his assignments. Or he might underestimate the time necessary to complete his tasks, thereby missing deadlines. He is easily distracted by less important things. When he takes too long to do his work, others may need to prod him to move on to the next task. Although the tardy person might apologize for being late, he continues to mismanage his time until he has a change of heart. By acknowledging his selfishness and receiving God’s grace, he can overcome his tardiness and learn to respect others’ time.

Evaluation Questions

  • How do I prepare to meet God each day for prayer and Bible reading?
  • When is the best time for me to go to bed so that I can get enough rest and then get up on time?
  • Do I return books and other borrowed items as soon as I have finished using them?
  • When God gives me an opportunity to present the Gospel, am I prompt to do so?
  • Am I punctual for mealtimes and other family gatherings?
  • Do I write thank-you notes and letters in a timely manner?
  • Am I punctual and faithful to fulfill commitments that I have made?
  • How do I plan ahead so that I am ready to attend an event on time?
  • Does my time management reveal that I care more about myself or others?

More About Punctuality

“I ought not to insult any one by supposing that his time is worth nothing, and that he himself is a nobody, who may as well wait for me as not.”
C. H. Spurgeon
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Punctuality with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:


Make time for Him.

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” Isaiah 55:6 “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12

Have the right priorities.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7

Value time.

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15–16

Plan and follow a schedule.

“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3

Prepare ahead of time.

“Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.” Proverbs 24:27

Be at the right place at the right time.

“Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord.” Jeremiah 8:7

Prepare for unexpected delays.

“These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” I Timothy 3:14–15

Avoid procrastination.

“When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.” Deuteronomy 23:21

Be early.

“And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.” John 8:2

Refuse to keep others waiting.

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” Romans 12:10

Punctuality in Scripture

Ready for the Bridegroom

“But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. . . . the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him . . . . Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour . . . .”
Matthew 25:4, 10, 13
Jesus had been training His disciples for nearly three years when they raised a question about His Second Coming. “What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” they privately asked Him. Jesus warned them of deceivers and told them of the persecution and suffering that they could expect before the end. Yet He also gave reassurance of salvation and reward to those who endure to the end. When Jesus spoke of His glorious appearing, He said that no one except the Father knows the day or the hour of His coming. “Watch,” Jesus said, “and be ready.” He told His disciples to anticipate His return and faithfully serve Him until then. Faithful servants will be rewarded, but lazy and unrighteous servants will be punished, He explained. Then Jesus told a parable so the disciples might understand what it meant to be prepared for His return. In the parable, the Kingdom of Heaven was illustrated through a Jewish wedding. Who would go to meet the bridegroom on his way to receive his bride? Would these people have to wait for the bridegroom? Who prepared ahead of time so they would be ready to celebrate with the bridegroom at the wedding feast?

Revealed in Nature

Cliff Swallow

Each year on March 19, cliff swallows arrive in San Juan Capistrano, California, as they migrate north. Thousands of people gather to watch. Records honoring the punctuality of various species of swallows around the world exist from as long ago as 600 B.C.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. Through this study, children are encouraged to make wise use of the time God has given to them and others and be ready for Christ’s return.

View the Punctuality booklet sample:

Get the complete Punctuality booklet with all four lessons & activities:

Free Resources for Punctuality

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
“Time is the passing of life. Redeeming the time means rescuing it from going to waste.”
Rick Grubbs