Fear or Love?
Do you fear God, as the Bible says that the fear of God is the beginning wisdom? (Proverbs 1:7) Or do you love Him, as the Bible tells us to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, and strength? (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)
Can you do both? Maybe they are two sides of the same coin. Remember your parents. God often uses the parent/child relationship to show us who He is. Did you love/fear your parents? They had the ability to give you every desire, but they also had the ability to take everything away.
As a parent, I myself use this love/fear relationship to teach my children. The same hand that punishes for wrong comforts in times of pain. The strength of my protection allows the them to feel safe and free at the same time. Out of fear, they learn to obey. Out of love, they learn to do it.
I remember a particular naughty time in my youth. I remember seeing the hurt in my father's eyes as he punished me. He wasn't hurt by my punishment, and neither was I. As punishments go, that one was rather weak, but the look in his eyes spurred me to do right from then on. It was a defining moment in my character that I didn't realize until now. Not in these words, but I realized that my sin, in this case against my brother, hurt my father. I don't think it was because he loved my brother who was hurt, which of course he did and still does today. But I think it was because he loved me, and someone he loved hurt someone else. I don't think I ever was a bully, but even if I had considered it, that day cured me of the thought.
Out of my love for my earthly father, my fear of his punishments matured into the fear of needing him to punish me. With God, I think it may be the same. And as a father, I hope my kids figure that out soon.