but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. - James 3: 8-10
The writer of James clearly intended to chastise his audience for something. We can surmise that there was some back-biting and verbal sniping going on in the community. But is this a universally applicable statement?
After all, the Gospel writers depict Jesus as a rather sharp-tongued and critical speaker. There are times when we need to speak up plainly against those who promote injustice and exploitation. We do need to examine our own motivations, but we also need to make sure that we’re not timid in the pursuit of the transformation we all seek in the world around us.