8 I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others.
9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
10 And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago;
11 but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have.
12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.
13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened;
14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality.
15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
I speak not by commandment (v.8) — God did not tell Paul to write this part of the letter. Paul goes on to give the Corinthians his advice beginning in verse 10.
Verse 9 expresses the same thought as that in Philippians 2:6-7, and especially the words “He emptied Himself.” Christ was rich in divinity and glory, but took on the nature of man. He also became a poor man and lived in poverty.
More than a year previous the Corinthian Christians had enthusiastically agreed to participate in this great offering for the impoverished Judaean saints. But, as with many of God’s people today, the nearer the time for the redemption of their pledge drew near, the less they felt like doing it. Therefore Paul “advised” them that it was “expedient” for them to do their part without further delay, for it would be embarrassing to him, not to mention them, if all the Gentile churches, with a veritable army of their delegates, were forced to proceed to Jerusalem without a representation from the largest church of all. — Stam, page 177.
The sense of the above [vs. 12-15] we perceive to be as follows: “No one is asking you to do more than you can or to give more than you can afford.”
The policy of Christian giving was set at Antioch, the Gentile city where “the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26) and Saul, recently saved, was called to be their leader (Acts 11:25-26). The Bible law of “first mention” looms important here.
And exactly what was “Christian giving”? It was a distinct break from giving as taught in the Sermon on the Mount and at Pentecost. When the Judean believers who had practiced the program of “all things common” and “sell that ye have and give alms,”—when these began to experience serious lack, they appealed for help to the brethren at Antioch with the result that: “… the disciples [at Antioch] every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: “Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 11:29-30).
This has remained the policy for Christian giving ever since (see 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 12-14). —Stam, page 178