God “much prefers” to express His compassion and grace than His judgment and discipline. I can relate to this as a father. I “much prefer” to be gracious and giving to my children rather than discipline them for disobedience. I will do the latter if their behavior warrants it, but I “much prefer” the former.
And so it is with God and us. He “much prefers” that we remain in intimacy and obedience with Him, so that He can bless, help, show compassion, empower and reward us. But if our behavior warrants His judgment and discipline, He will have to express that.
This in no way is inconsistent with His immutability. Nor does it imply that He is less loving when our behavior results in His discipline, for “He disciplines those whom He loves” (Hebr. 12). I exhibit my love to my children when I have to bring judgment upon them, because it is in their best interest. But, like God, I “much prefer” to express favor, compassion, mercy, support, blessing and reward for their obedience! It’s up to them! In the same way, it’s up to us whether God does what He “much prefers” toward us.
Look carefully at the following Scriptures and note the emotions of God behind His actions. These verses reveal what God “much prefers”:
“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” (Ezek. 33:11)
God does not like to bring judgment and death upon the wicked. He “much prefers” they turn. so He can bless them with abundant life.
“He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pe. 3:9)
Will all come to repentance? No. But He desires they do so that He can show grace and mercy.
“The LORD longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion.” (Isa. 30:18)
Compare this with Ezek. 33:11 where it says “He takes no pleasure in…” He does not desire to bring judgment on the wicked, but He does desire to be gracious and show compassion if we will abide in Him.
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” (Ps. 81:10-16)
What aspects of His nature will God express to you? It’s up to you!