William Andrew Dillard
NON-ARBITRARY AND LONGSUFFERING
How grateful every human being should be that our Great Creator and Redeemer God is a longsuffering God! From the earliest days of human history, the term “longsuffering” is brought into play often in describing the love and mercies of God. It was his longsuffering that waited in the days of Noah while the ark was in preparation. Peter says that we should account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation… 2 Peter 3:15. But perhaps the best known verse of scripture employing this term is 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
It would be easy, and far from wrong to ascribe the attribute of longsuffering to God as a part of his tremendous patience, or foreknowledge, or eternal power and nature. However, there is another most important attribute of God that should be given priority in thoughts about this: God is NOT an arbitrary God. Please consider with me what this means.
Consulting reputable dictionaries of the English language, one learns that the term “arbitrary” is defined as: “not planned or chosen for a particular reason: not based on reason or evidence; done without concern for what is fair or right; depending on individual discretion and not fixed by law; not restrained or limited in the exercise of power,” etc. It may be said that to be arbitrary is to act on whim alone. As the Sovereign of the universe, some Christians believe He does act arbitrarily, and erroneously call upon Him to so do. It may be an affront to some people’s thinking to speak of God as bound by anything at all, but the Bible affirms that He is. He is bound by His own perfect principles of righteousness. Thus, God cannot be tempted; He cannot sin; He cannot lie, but He can deal with anything and everything perfectly within His own non-arbitrary nature and power in total righteousness.
So it would appear that being non-arbitrary goes hand in hand with longsuffering. It is also evident that both characteristics are a distinct blessing and favor to the human family in that it allows the holy will of God to be perfectly completed beyond question or recall. It also allows grace and mercy to be extended to the fullest and farthest extent for the salvation of all of “whosoever will.”
But being non-arbitrary does not by any means indicate weakness or lack of concern. The longsuffering of God came to a just conclusion in the days of Noah. It will also come to a just conclusion upon this present evil world; a conclusion so complete in every detail that no reasoning, excuse, or cry to the contrary will have standing in it. But every knee shall bow and every tongue confess before God, even those whose eternity is one of damnation. They shall understand it and agree in it for no reasoning will be incomplete in the finished longsuffering of our non-arbitrary God. So shall those who have opened their heart to Him know the limitless awareness of joy unspeakable and full of glory! Amen, and Amen! What a Savior!