This 2005 film is based on the true story of James Braddock, a heavyweight boxer who lived in New York during the Great Depression. After an early rise to the top of the boxing world, Braddock hits hard times – including an injured hand that prevents him from fighting, taking away his only real source of income. A devoted family man, Braddock and his wife enter the greatest fight of their lives – trying to keep the family together against tremendous odds. (Heads Up: James’ manager (Joe) frequently uses offensive language, including pervasive use of the Lord’s name in vain. Also, much of the boxing violence is very realistic and intense.)
QUESTION: James Braddock and his wife are clearly devoted to one another and to their children. How does their relationship reflect a Christian view of marriage and family? Contrast their relationship to those who walk away when times get tough. (See "A" Below)
QUESTION: James Braddock had a legitimate need yet resisted accepting any charity from others or a handout from the government. Even what he took he repaid as soon as he was able. Was this mere pride or did it reflect a strong work ethic? How does his attitude toward accepting charity differ from many in our day? (See "B" Below)
QUESTION: This film contains several demonstrations of heroic self-sacrifice in which one person gives up something for others. Describe your favorites and explain how it reflects the main plot of God’s story. (See "C" Below)
THINK ABOUT IT:
A) The Bible describes marriage as a picture of God’s relationship with His beloved bride, the church (See Ephesians 5). That’s why traditional marriage vows commit to “love, comfort and keep him/her in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, keep only to him/her, so long as we both shall live.” I Timothy 5:8 says that anyone who fails to provide for his/her immediate family has “denied the faith” and lives “worse than an unbeliever.” Clearly, unending devotion to a spouse and children are top priorities for every believer. Sadly, many in our generation walk away from these responsibilities over far less adversity than James Braddock faced.
B) Accepting help from others when we are truly in need requires humility. But we should always seek to work for what we receive. The scriptures are filled with admonitions to work hard and carry your own weight, such as when the Apostle Paul instructed early believers “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) He also told the Roman Christians to “let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another” (Romans 13:8). Those who can work should work, and those who receive from others should pay it back when they are able. When we become comfortable with handouts, we can develop slothful habits and the feeling the world owes you something rather than humble gratitude for God’s provision. Hard work is a gift from God because it gives us a sense of dignity and confidence.
C) Each of us has been called to follow Christ’s example by giving ourselves up for others (See Philippians 2:5-8). Several scenes reflect that attitude in Cinderella man including: (1) James Braddock tells his children that he was full because he dreamed about a big meal, allowing the kids to eat his share. (2) Against every instinct inside of him, James humiliates himself in front of his former colleagues by asking for help to keep his family together. (3) Joe (James’ manager) secretly sold all of this furniture to provide enough money for James to train for another fight .
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