Also lately, through discovery of my unawareness, I found rust is also a commonly used metaphor for slow decay due to neglect, since it gradually converts robust iron and steel metal into a soft crumbling powder.
Similarly to iron, men and women can go through their own process of degradation when exposed to toxic elements that come our way such as chemicals, toxic thoughts and unhealthy relationships. The Bible, other holy texts and sound advice from wise people warn us about this, but sometimes we become tainted and tarnished before we even realize it. Then what do we do?
Given sufficient time, oxygen, and water, any iron mass will eventually convert entirely to rust and disintegrate. Surface rust is flaky and friable, and it provides no protection to the underlying iron, unlike the formation of patina on copper surfaces. See the examples of rust accumulation on the tools below and the four descriptive stages. As you read the stages, consider the human rust equivalents.
Stage One - Deposits on the surface of the metal with a red, black or white coloration will form. This will be partnered with a small amount of etching and pitting. At this stage, the rust is attacking the surface of the metal. The rust can be treated easily with either sand blasting or chemically cleaning.
Stage Two - This rust now takes on a powdered or granular condition. Scaling can develop as flakes of metal become loose and fall off. The base metal will still be unaffected at this stage; therefore, the metal can be easily treated with sand blasting or chemical cleaning.
Stage Three - The surface appearance of stage three rust is very similar if not identical to the appearance of rust in stage two, except that the underlying decay will be more severe. The base metal in the areas of corrosion will have been compromised; small pinholes may be present. At this stage, the metal must be repaired after it has been cleaned and primed.
Stage Four - Stage four rust represents corrosion and decay that have developed to a point at which the base metal has been completely penetrated and removed. No metal will remain at the points of corrosion in stage four. Extensive repair will be required after the metal has been cleaned and primed.
I have experienced that long term ever-so-slow decay in my life and with others. With God’s help He has been able to reverse that process by divine electrolysis and we can experience spiritual renewal. We must stay vigilant to all things good and uplifting, so as to not become unusable by the Master Craftman.
In the Bible, book of Matthew 6:19-20 it reads, Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (NIV) As Pastor M. Collins, Church of the Great God, SC writes, "Rust" represents anything that "eats into" and destroys things more durable than clothing. In this parable, it has a wider application than mere iron oxide. Once moths and rust settle on an object, they gradually eat their way from the exterior to the interior. Thus, beyond their ability to destroy physical objects, moths and rust represent the decay of a person's life. An 8th century English Clergyman, Robert South, referring to guilt (a toxic substance) says this, Guilt upon the conscience, like rust upon iron, both defiles and consumes it, gnawing and creeping into it, as that does which at last eats out the very heart and substance of the metal.
May we all be sensitive to elements and situations that will corrode and degrade our fragile humanness, especially the children and others whom we associate and care for.