It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
The apostle Paul is speaking of the love we must have for our brothers and sisters. This is the ‘new’ commandment that Jesus gave in John 13:34-35, that by this all people will know that we are his disciples.
I take this to mean that I must believe the best of my brothers and sisters, and hope the best for them. Protection puts the other first. Trust means not exerting control over them but believing in their character. Hoping wishes the best for them, and persevering means standing by them in times where it is inconvenient to do so.
In all cases, the brother or sister comes first as we long for their best. This can be easy for us in dealing with brothers and sisters that we like, and/or are most like us. But what about the one who is less easy to like, and/or quite different to us?
Note that Paul repeats the word ‘always’. This isn’t optional. God commands us to always believe the best of our brothers and sisters, and hope the best for them. This should look different to the ‘friendship’ of the world – as Jesus specifically tells us that they will know us to be his disciples if we love each other in his self-sacrificial way.
This is a great personal challenge, and I hope it is one for all of us today. Let’s ask God to change our hearts where needed, and go out and do it!