Currently I sit in a basic office chair, shrouded in light from a nearby window. If I close my eyes, breathe deep, and focus on my body, I can sense a slight ache in my lower back. I notice that my shoulders are arched forward as my hands rest on the keyboard in front of me. My head is tilted toward the computer screen.
And suddenly, I remember: posture. My posture is terrible.
But why does posture matter? Good posture is linked to less back pain, more confidence, fewer headaches, and more energy. Therefore, good posture has the potential to improve one’s quality of life.
I think the same can be true about our spiritual posture. As you look toward this brand new year, what is your posture like? Are you cynical of new beginnings? Are you ready for a fresh start? Are you hopeful? Or anxious?
Maybe our posture toward the New Year matters just as much (or even more) than our resolutions.
What should our posture be as a Christian facing a brand new year? We can learn a great deal about our posture as a Christian through Paul’s letter to the Philippians. As he sits in a Roman prison, he pens arguably the most joy-filled epistle in the New Testament. He is not jaded from hardship, he is hopeful and expectant. He is not regretful but confident in Christ.
I don’t know about you, but this is the type of attitude I would like to have this coming year.
Let’s take a deeper look at this joyful, hope-filled posture that Paul models for us in Philippians by observing Philippians 2 and 3.
1. Arms Extended
Paul begins Philippians 2 praying for unity among the Philippian church—that they would do nothing out of selfish ambition. Their arms are not to be crossed in defense or pride, but are to be extended toward one another in brotherly embrace. Christ’s Church is to model Jesus, who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but instead emptied Himself to pay the debt of our sin (Philippians 2:6–7). Jesus is the embodiment of extended arms toward His people. And Paul instructs us to “adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). As we approach the New Year, we can ask ourselves: how might I humble myself this year to better serve those around me? In what ways can I encourage unity in my church?
2. Hands Open
Approaching the New Year with open hands means letting go of our grip on the world—not holding tightly to the treasures of today. In Philippians 3, Paul advocates not just for a loosened grip on the things of this world, but to let go of them entirely. He says, “But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7–8). All the things we could accumulate, successes we could achieve, and people we could please are worth nothing compared to Jesus. As we look toward 2024, may our goals and aspirations elevate Christ above all else.
3. Feet Facing Forward
As Paul continues in Philippians 3, Paul humbly acknowledges that he is a work in progress: “Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12). The “it” Paul refers to is his ultimate goal: to know Jesus (Philippians 3:10). As he presses toward his goal, Paul encourages the Philippians to forget what is behind and reach forward to what is ahead (Philippians 3:13). Paul’s mistakes and shortcomings are not weights for him to carry—Christ has already borne the cost of his sin. And for that reason, Paul can look ahead without the past’s baggage weighing him down. So too, no matter what 2023 looked like for you, you can embrace the newness of 2024. Christ’s mercy offers you a new beginning—a fresh start. May we fight the temptation to dwell on misgivings from the past and keep our feet facing forward.
4. Eyes Heavenward
Finally, Paul encourages the Philippians to keep their eyes focused on heaven, their true home (Philippians 3:20). If you are in Christ, your citizenship is in heaven too. Therefore, you have great hope no matter what this year holds. If the year is filled with trial, hold tight to the promise that one day, God will wipe your tears—that heaven will be a place with no more crying and no more pain (Revelation 21:4). If your year holds triumph, you can remember that no taste on this earth will satisfy your hunger for heaven. Nothing rivals the joy we will feel when we finally meet our Savior face to face.
Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic (in every sense of the word), but I refuse to believe that January first is just another day. Though the sun rises in the same way it did on December 31st, the date “1/1” signals newness—the opportunity to begin again with a refreshed sense of hope. Maybe we do not need to overhaul our lives in this new year—maybe we just need to be faithful to what God has called us. Just as I need to sit up straight in this office chair, maybe we simply need to adjust our posture and recenter our lives around Christ. Afterall, 2024 is His year.
Additional Resources for Stepping into the New Year: