Punctuality is "the quality or habit of adhering to an appointed time"; "strict observance in keeping engagements, promptness; antonym: tardiness"
Now I know some folks are “naturally” early or late, meaning that we all develop certain habits, and a habit (good or bad), feels natural. Like other virtues, punctuality will come easier for some than others, however (like other virtues), there are good reasons for making efforts to improve this virtue. This is especially true as it relates to arriving on time for services of the church. Now I am not referring to the occasional lateness due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g., a flat tire), but rather the habitual practice of being late due to a lack of concern of being on time.
It’s true that a person can become a “slave of time,” but that is a different problem than the perpetual lack of punctuality. The Bible tells says, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40). As a part of the covenant community our focus and full-participation is important. Our assembling with the church (i.e., with the family), means recognizing or discerning the body. Like other areas of our lives, neglect in punctuality sends a message (even when it is not our self-conscious intention to do so). The lack of punctuality does have an adverse effect on the spiritual growth and health of a congregation. We might ask, “Is it a sin to be habitually late for one's appointments?"
Lack of punctuality is a theft of someone else's time. This would be obvious if we were thinking about an employee who is late for work, but it’s also true when we’re part of a group that has agreed to meet at a set time. Lack of punctuality is a lack of respect for others e.g., our brethren whom we are to honor (Rom. 12:10; Phil. 2:3), including our Lord, Who honors us with His presence (cf. Matt. 18:20). Most of us would be unlikely to be late for an appointment with a V.I.P., someone whom we want to honor. If we wish to honor others over ourselves, we will make it a point to be on time when meeting with them. When we are perpetually late it sends a message (even though it might not be intended), that we’re important and busy people, unlike the others who are waiting for us.
At church meetings, it is likely that people have spent time preparing lessons, sermons, meals, etc. When we show up late for dinner, it’s not only a disappointment, it’s a disruption. The host of dinner doesn’t want to start without their family or guests, neither do they want to serve it cold. Moreover, it is common for church meeting to start late to accommodate the late-comers, which means the lesson either has to be cut short (to stay on time), or else the meeting itself runs overtime, which is inconsiderate of others.
Lack of punctuality (especially for worship) is also a violation of the Greatest Commandment. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). How can we be late for an appointment with Christ? As William Shakespeare put it: "Better three hours too soon than a minute too late." Being on time is really quite simple...plan to be early, and start out early.