Less Than Three
By Anthony Casperson

The Twitch streamer had the text-to-speech program running for the donation messages that their viewers sent to them. Rather than having to stop playing the game to which they were devoting much of their attention whenever a viewer sent them a message, they would just have the computer read it out.

One message came in that ended with the computerized voice reading out, “less than three.” At the time (which was several years ago now), I hadn’t ever heard that particular phrasing. I wondered what that was all about.

After a few more times of hearing computerized voices and actual people reading out that phrase, I came to realize that it was a computer trying to figure out how to speak the symbol <3 which is supposed to be taken as a sideways heart. A way to speak forth love to someone in shorthand.

(I find it funny that typing the symbol might be faster than writing out “love you,” but it is by no means shorter when actually reading out “less than three.” But I digress.)

Earlier this week, I heard someone speaking about loving God as making more of him and less of us. It was then that I came to the conclusion that <3 might just actually be the most theologically accurate use of love in the English-speaking world.

Far too many instances of love in common use have a selfish perspective. We love because something or someone makes us happy. Being in their presence gives us a release of hormones and chemicals. They make us feel special.

Notice that every one of those statements makes us the center of that love. It’s a love because of what they do for us and how they make us feel. We love them because they ______.

But that is not biblical love. Love in this sense is a selfless, self-sacrificial, others-centered choice. We choose to put them first.

This is how the love of God works, and when we stand in line with this, we see that we must become lesser and he greater. When we focus less on ourselves and more on the triune God, we love like he does. We are less than the three Persons of the Trinity. Less than three. <3

In the latter part of John 3, after the more famous verses, we see John the Baptist speaking with some of his followers. They had wondered if John was worried about those who had followed him were now leaving to follow Jesus.

But John responds by telling them that this had always been the way it was supposed to be. He was merely the opening act for one far greater than he. In John’s loving act of service to God, he knew that God’s plan had to play out this way.

And then we get to verse 30, where John says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John understood that for the love of God to be shown to the world, he had to consider himself less and allow the work of God to increase. He had to be less than three so that Jesus could showcase the love that is mentioned in the more famous verse in John 3.

Real god-like love is shown when we make God the focus of our lives. Love is <3.