BEING punctual, or on time, is not always easy. Among the challenges that we may have to overcome are long travel distances, heavy traffic, and busy schedules. Yet, being on time is important. In the workplace, for example, a punctual person is generally considered reliable and diligent. On the other hand, an individual who arrives late can affect the work of others and the quality of products and services. Tardiness can cause a student to miss certain classes and hinder his scholastic progress. Being late for a medical or dental appointment may affect the treatment one receives.
In some places, though, punctuality is not considered that important. In such an environment, being late can easily become our habit. If that is so, it is vital that we cultivate a desire to be on time. Appreciating the importance of punctuality will certainly help us to be punctual. What are some reasons for being punctual? How can we meet the challenge of punctuality? And what benefits can we expect to reap from being on time?
The foremost reason we want to be punctual is that we want to imitate the God we worship. (Eph. 5:1) Jehovah provides an excellent example of punctuality. He is never late. He adheres strictly to his schedule in the fulfillment of his purposes. For example, when Jehovah decided to destroy the ungodly world in a deluge, he said to Noah: “Make for yourself an ark out of wood of a resinous tree.” As the time for the end drew near, Jehovah told Noah to enter into the ark and informed him: “In just seven days more I am making it rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will wipe every existing thing that I have made off the surface of the ground.” Then right on time, “seven days later it turned out that the waters of the deluge came upon the earth.” (Gen. 6:14; 7:4, 10) Imagine what might have happened to Noah and his family had they not been inside the ark on time. Like the God they worshipped, they had to be punctual.
Some 450 years after the Flood, Jehovah told the patriarch Abraham that he would have a son through whom the promised Seed would come. (Gen. 17:15-17) God said that Isaac would be born “at this appointed time next year.” Did that happen? The Scriptures tell us: “Sarah became pregnant and then bore a son to Abraham in his old age at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.”—Gen. 17:21; 21:2.
The Bible abounds with examples showing God’s punctuality. (Jer. 25:11-13; Dan. 4:20-25; 9:25) The Bible tells us to keep in expectation of Jehovah’s future day of judgment. Even if it seems to “delay” from a human viewpoint, we are assured that “it will not be late.”—Hab. 2:3.
All Israelite men had to be present and on time at the place designated for “the seasonal festivals of Jehovah.” (Lev. 23:2, 4) God also determined the times at which certain sacrifices were to be offered. (Ex. 29:38, 39; Lev. 23:37, 38) Does this not indicate that God wants his servants to be punctual in their worship?
In the first century when the apostle Paul instructed the Corinthians about how Christian meetings should be conducted, he urged them: “Let all things take place decently and by arrangement.” (1 Cor. 14:40) Accordingly, Christian gatherings for worship were to begin at an appointed time. Jehovah’s view of punctuality has not changed. (Mal. 3:6)