As parents we rightly focus on teaching our children to obey God. But, we must be more focused on teaching our children to love God first. This is where it is easy to turn away from the gospel in parenting. Whether you read Deuteronomy, Matthew or Colossians, the first thing that God desires is that he is to be loved. Too often, when it comes to raising children, loving God is tacked on as an after thought to obedience. The thought process may run like this:
"I can't force my children to love God, so I will teach them to obey, because I can require that."
Teaching obedience appears to be a more doable task than teaching the love of God. After all, reaching the heart of your child is way beyond your capacity. That is true, it is beyond your capacity, but not beyond God's!
Think of the people whom God required to love him:
The children of Israel were a hard-hearted, complaining bunch. But Moses tells them that their first responsibility is to love God with all their hearts (Deuteronomy 10:12-13; 6:4-7).
To the cynical, hypocritical hearts of the Pharisees, Jesus says the greatest commandment is the love of God (Matthew 22:37-40).
To the pagan, cosmopolitan people of Colossae and Corinth Paul says to begin with love (Colossians 3:14 & 1 Corinthians 13).