Bible study, calling, Mary of Bethany, Uncategorized

Word Wednesday: Agathos/ Better or Useful?

I’m sharing a little bit of A Mary Like Me today. This is one of my favorite chapters…well…personally, I like all of the chapters, but THIS ONE is close to my heart. The book was written to encourage women to step out into their calling. Sometimes we compare ourselves to talented peers and saintly biblical women and decide we can’t do what God’s calling us to do. But camaraderie in our human weaknesses grants us strength to go for the dream.

The Church has placed Martha’s sister, Mary of Bethany, on a holy pedestal. But she was so very human. Every disciple of Christ was.

Did she really sit at Jesus’ feet because she chose the better thing to do? Was it her holiness or rebelliousness that first landed her at His feet rather than setting the table for supper?

I was once a little sister, and I always tried to get out of doing the dishes.

She was called Mary. (Luke 10:39). The name meant bitter, rebellious, and defiant..

Gate on the hills of Galilee ~photo andy lee
Gate on the hills of Galilee ~photo andy lee

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:40-42


We traditionally hear Jesus’ reply to Martha as, “Mary has chosen the better.” But there are other ways to translate this answer. The Greek word is agathos (ag-ath-os’). It means: good, better, benevolent, profitable, and useful.[i]  What if Jesus actually told Martha that Mary had chosen the useful activity?

In the context of the story, it makes sense. Remember, Martha is complaining that Mary isn’t helping; she isn’t being useful. Martha isn’t asking Jesus to tell her sister to do something better. She is demanding for Jesus to make her sister be useful in preparing the meal. Despite her demands, Jesus tells Martha that Mary is doing the useful thing.

How could sitting at His feet be useful? Mary’s actions were useless and non-beneficial to Martha, but her actions were useful to Jesus.

….I’ve struggled with my own calling of God to preach and teach the Word. I’ve researched, heart-searched, and cried out to Jesus for answers concerning women in ministry. Can only men be pastors and preachers?

This question stirs controversy, but Jesus’ acceptance of women to join His disciples as students was the model we must remember. It was acceptable and good for Mary to take on this new position.

Words written years later by Paul were personified by Jesus the night He stayed in Bethany. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-28).

When Jesus saw Mary B. sitting at His feet with the disciples, He didn’t see a woman; He saw her heart—a heart that desired to serve Christ. This is what He sees when He looks at us. We are free to serve no matter what our gender may be. We are also free to serve with the personalities He gave us….sometimes bitter, rebellious, and defiant. In His Presence our bitter becomes sweet, our weaknesses become strengths. But only in His Presence.

Be rebellious today. Choose what is useful to the Kingdom. Sit at His feet. The dishes can wait.

[i] Zodhiates, Spiros, TH.D. Executive Editor. The Hebrew-Original Key Word Study Bible, New American Standard Bible. Lexical Aids to the New Testament. Agathos. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1996), 1570.

Randy Alcorn Heaven


Winner of Heaven, by Randy Alcorn!

Drawing for Heaven 1

The contestants.

Drawing for Heaven 2

The drawing.


Drawing for Heaven 3

The Winner! Venus Schrader! :) Congrats! Thanks for sharing the link. And thanks to all of you who commented or shared the link too. I’m praying for all of you. I know many of you suffer with chronic pain everyday. I’m praying for some “heaven” on this side for you.

With Joy,



Check out other great blogs on Rachel Wojo’s link party! Thanks Rachel! (She gives some suggestions of top Bible Apps. I’m looking forward to checking out the Logos App. Sounds like it’s right up my alley.v


  1. Yvette Wear

    The timing on this one could not be more perfect for me right now. God is calling me and it is a process and I am having all the the feelings you talk about here. Thank you for sharing and writing all that you do, you may never know the depths to which God uses you to speak to so many especially me. Thank You – Yvette

    1. Yay! I’ll be praying for you. Go girl! Step out of that boat. Keep your eyes on Him. Stay in His presence. I’ll keep on keepin’ on too. Thank you for your encouragement. Always needed.

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