Feel the burn. Anyone who has been involved with any form of exercise knows the achy feeling deep in the muscles the day after the workout. As strange as it may seem those aches and pains are actually a good sign. It means the muscles are activated and responding to the exercise.
The achy feeling is not a sign to give up the exercise but a signal to keep moving forward increasing the exercise regiment as the muscles get used to each level of exercise. A Christian's spiritual fitness is also based on feeling the burn.
I Corinthians 9:24, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
In 1 Corinthians Paul refers to the Christian as a runner in a race. As with any race the goal for the runner is to finish in first place and win the prize. In order to even compete let alone finish first a runner cannot be flabby or out of shape. Each runner must be at peak performance in order to endure the rigors of a long race.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27, "Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Paul goes on to say every runner must exercise self control in all things. An athlete must watch what they eat and drink as well be self-disciplined in order to maintain a daily training schedule. Even on those days when, because of the aches and pains,exercise is the last thing on the athlete's mind. The Christian life is the same way. Each Christian must remain fit for the race by spending time each day exercising, by praying, reading God's Word and loving others, even on the days when the aches and pains of life, which are the things of this world, seek to knock us out of the race.
Paul closes out this section of 1 Corinthians with the words, "lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
Paul is warning the runner, "feel the burn (the calls of this world) but work your way through them lest you take your eyes off the course." A runner who does not stay focused on the course through the whole race will end up tripping over their and falling down, which may lead to a disqualification.
What is waiting for the Christian who runs the race and endures the course till the end-an imperishable crown.
"2 Timothy 4:7-9, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing."
Run the race, feel the burn, keep the focus and finish the race.