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Time Thieves (TT)

aymon de albatrus

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Mat 6:33)

Chronic tardiness is a character flaw that demonstrates rudeness and disrespect to both God and people.


Who hasn't been annoyed by those who, for example, consistently run late, who don't pay their bills on time, who turn in assignments past the deadline, or who procrastinate in completing a project within the designated time frame? For many, running late has become a way of life. Truly we all are short of a lot of Agape love. Not just loving someone, but demonstrating love for people with actions. It is true; actions speak louder than words and so we must act against Time Stealers. Therefore for the love we have for people we have to challenge those with the habit of regularly arriving late for it is a bad mannered habit that has no consideration for others, disrupts church activities and even the prayer of others and displays no thought of respect to others.

Everything we do sends a message to others. If, for example, we're consistently late for church, for meetings, for appointments, or for other commitments we've made, what's the message we're sending to others? Several:

  1. Firstly, when we are consistently late, it's saying that our time is more important than other people’s time, which is a rather arrogant message to be sending, isn't it? This is also contrary to Scripture: "For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself." (Gal 6:3)

  2. Secondly, when we are consistently late, we are saying that for an important person, we will be on time, but for you, well, it really doesn't matter. But Scripture says: "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." (Phi 2:3)

  3. And thirdly, when we are consistently late, we are saying that we are not quite honest, because honest people stick to their word and follow through with their commitments—especially time commitments. (Phi 4:8)

Sometimes people are late because they just don't care about keeping others waiting. They have a sense of entitlement about time - their time is more important than other people's time. They seem to get some sort of secret pleasure at keeping people waiting. Underlying this is often the same control issue: "You can't control me." Not being controlled becomes far more important than caring about other people.

I have known a woman who DELIBERATELY made sure that she was late at any appointment for she said: "I do not want to wait for people, I want them to wait for me?" What pathetic arrogance of self-importance.

Being on time is important! Of course this is not possible ALL of the time -- but being on time to appointments, to work, and to other activities that have a "time frame", is important and as far as it depends on us, we should always be on time for it is the right thing to do and also avoids bad feelings: "If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men." (Rom 12:18)

A source of concern for pastors and preachers alike are those people who persistently arrive late for Church or leave before the meeting is finished. Some may say that we should just be happy that people come at all and not criticise this disgusting behaviour, but the practice of these time bandits needs to be challenged because it indicates lack of understanding about the significance of the gathering of God’s people. "not forsaking the assembling together of ourselves, as is the custom of some, but exhorting, and by so much more as you see the Day drawing near." (Heb 10:25)

These time thieves often distract the assembly and the sacred atmosphere of worship is disrupted by late arrivals as they find places and get organised. Scripture tell us that Christ is present amongst the people gathered for worship and that, when the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people. I cannot help but wonder if people would arrive late if they were aware that Christ was a fellow worshipper or that God was doing the first reading! Incidentally do you think that Christ is late at these meetings or He leaves early???

Indeed, would these people that are always late for meetings would they not be, not on time, if they had an appointment with the King or the President of a nation. And yet, our meetings are with the King of kings, the Mighty God of the Universe. Do we think that God is pleased with such dismal behaviour? "For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regards not persons, nor takes bribe:" (Deu 10:17)

Time is a valuable resource and praise God we ALL have the same, 24 hours a day. If time is a precious commodity, people that steal time from others in arriving late are in fact breaking the eight commandment: "You shall not steal." (Exo 20:15). This means that they are sinning against God and man, and should repent of this and mend their ways. But time pirates are usually totally oblivious to this "crime" of theirs. Does it mean that we are to submit to their bad manner and continue to tolerate such arrogant behaviour? NO, we must confront them with the love of Christ but with firmness explaining to them the evil of their rudeness. One thing we must NOT do in our meetings is to stop the meeting when latecomers arrive and restart from the beginning, no! No! We must carry on regardless, if they have missed something, next time they will be on time.

Another type of Time Brigands is those long-winded people whose talking has no end: Blah-blah, blah-blah, blah-blah, blah. Have you ever listened to someone who, long after the allotted time, continued to blab on? What did you think of that person? Probably you were rather annoyed at having your time robbed. Being long-winded is a sure route to career failure, indeed life failure. Of course, no one thinks that they’re perceived as talking too much otherwise they wouldn’t do it, perhaps. But some are aware of this unpleasant habit; nevertheless they continue to blabber on. Watch out that maybe, without realizing it, you could be one of these irritating people.

A speaker delivered an interminably long speech and after he was done, one of his listeners worked up the courage to mention it by saying, "That was a very long speech." "Well," said the speaker," there was no clock in the room, so I couldn’t check the time I was taking." "Ah," said the other, "but there was a calendar on the wall."

A recent study has shown that women speak daily on average about 20 thousands words whilst men on average only 7 thousands. Another estimates states that a man in his lifetime forfeits 3 years waiting for women.

The Word of God has this to say against a multitude of words: "Where there is much talk there will be no end to sin, but he who keeps his mouth shut does wisely." (Pro 10:19) Long-winded speakers that ritually go over the allocated time, both in speeches and in normal conversation, are also breaking the eight commandments for they are time robbers.

Is God ever late? Absolutely NEVER. Can you imagine what would happen to the trillion of stars and planets if some of them were late in their orbit? In no time they would collide with each other and there will be nothing left. Take the first coming of Jesus: "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son …..," (Gal 4:4), did God send His son late? Absolutely no way, for Jesus came in the "fullness of the time" i.e. in perfect timing. Jesus was born at the perfect moment, the perfect time in history. It wasn't just a random chance that Jesus was born a certain night in Bethlehem. God had this planned from eternity. Jesus was not born a minute too soon, He was not born a minute too late. From eternity, God knew exactly all of the circumstances, and He had Jesus born at the perfect moment in history.

The same can be said about ALL the Prophecies uttered hundreds of years before. They came to pass perfectly on time, here is one written 700 years before about the birth of Christ: "But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall he come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Mic 5:2)

Will Jesus be late for His second coming? "Which also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven." (Act 1:11). Absolutely in no way, as He came and went according to the perfect time of the Father so shall He return in PERFECT timing as decreed by God according to His order and not confusion: "For God is not a God whose ways are without order, but a God of peace; as in all the churches of the saints." (1Co 14:33)

People look at the passage concerning the resurrection of Lazarus and like Mary and Martha and the others, they reason that Jesus was late in His coming to them: "Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was, seeing Him, she fell at His feet, saying to Him, Lord, if You were here, my brother would not have died." (Joh 11:32) "But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?"" (Joh 11:37) Well, was Jesus late for that appointment? He was not, not even for a picosecond. "When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he stayed two days still in the same place where he was." (Joh 11:6) Now why did Jesus did not depart immediately after hearing the bad news about his beloved friend? Because He was about His father’s business and about to demonstrate the ways of the Kingdom of God: "41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 And I knew that you hear me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that you have sent me." (Joh 11:41-42) For a dissertation to the meaning of this story go to:
http://www.albatrus.org/english/potpourri/sermons/jesus_wept.htm.

Both God and Jesus were NEVER late for their appointments, why then are you?

To the chronically late the calling is to do something about it, its really not that hard. You have to give yourself extra time to be ON TIME where you are going. It's easier to PLAN to leave sooner than what its actually going to take you to get where you need to be ON TIME. Always give yourself extra time.

Sitting an extra few minutes in the waiting area of an appointment isn't the end of the world. And likely may even make things go faster for your visit -- because needed paperwork and other things can be accomplished while you are waiting and then the counterpart, will NOT have to wait on you to fill out or do extra tasks during your appointment. They are done, completed and ready to go when you walk into the appointment. The same is valid for every other type of appointment. You can do it, if you want to.

Generally the same people are late every time and when some people are habitually late other participants start thinking "hey, meetings never start on time anyway, I’ll drop in ten minutes late." It’s a downward slide from there on. Here are three steps that can take to get the meetings started on time:

  1. Make absolutely clear what starting "ON TIME" means
    It means that people should get there five minutes early so the meeting is ready to start at the given time. It does NOT mean that people arrive at the set time and the meeting starts whenever people are ready, 15 or more minutes later.  And definitely does not men to arrive even after the set time.

  2. Start the meeting ON time
    It is simple: Start the meeting at the appointed time according to your definition above, regardless of how many participants are still missing. Waiting for them only teaches them that it’s OK to be late. Wait for no one, and do not restart for the latecomers.

  3. Make lateness visible
    When people come late welcome their names i.e. "Hello Mrs Brown, and Hello Mr. East" without restarting or welcoming words.

This simple tool is remarkably effective at getting people to arrive on time, and sometimes no further action is required - the problem more or less goes away by itself, if you stick to it.   And for the longwinded?  With those there is no other alternative but to be rude and cut them off.

Conclusion:

God is always in perfect timing and we as His sons are called to perfection and in that there is included the keeping of our commitments of occupation without robbing other people’s time.

If you are a chronic time robber and being late on a consistent basis has become a way of life for you, you are a TT (Time Thief) and sinning and in need to repent of this evil practice. Then, with the help of the Lord, you will stop trying to establish the kingdom of yourself and instead you will be seeking firstly the things of the Kingdom of God and will be able to claim the promise: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Phi 4:13) and thus be empowered to seriously endeavour to be ON time ALL the time.



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