Is there anything that the old pioneers and armies had in common? There may be a few similarities that you can think of, but consider this one for a moment. Pioneers of old were those who came to a land for the first time. Now, think about what those pioneers would have to do. Today we have highways and passages already made for us to make travel easy, but someone had to be the first to chop down trees and clear a path through the forest, in order that others coming after them could pass with ease. That’s what early pioneers had to do, and similarly, armies sent out troops in front, in order to clear a path for the full army who would come marching after them. Think about that imagery for a moment. What does that have to do with us?
There is a Greek word used in Philippians chapter one that ties to this concept. The Greek word prokope is a compound word made up of pro (“in front of”) and kopto (“to cut”)—meaning “to cut forward.” This word literally conveys the idea of cutting in front of or cutting a path forward, in order to advance the progress of that which would come in behind it. Pioneers did this—cutting forward for that which would come behind to have a clear and open path. An army’s advance troops would do this—cutting forward for that which would come behind to have a clear and open path.
Now, look at the verse. “I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). Paul said that the persecution that he was suffering at the hands of the Romans was cutting a path forward for something to come in behind him with a clear and open path. What was that something? What did Paul see as the purpose for his efforts? It was all “for the furtherance (the cutting forward) of the gospel.” Paul was endeavoring to fulfill the Great Commission and to reach lost souls. To that end, he was determined to do whatever it would take to open a path for the gospel to reach those souls.
What about you? Is there anything that you do that is cutting forward a path for the gospel to come in behind and reach lost souls? Is there anything that you could be doing?
That is a major purpose of living the Christian life! Our daily efforts to show kindness, to practice the Golden Rule, to control our tempers and to “let our lights constantly shine” are designed to cut a path forward for the saving gospel to come in behind us. Similarly, that’s why we invite folks to worship with us. As you examine your daily life as a child of God, what are you doing (and what could you be doing) that is cutting a path forward for the gospel? We have no greater purpose on this earth! May God help us to open up that path!