Jesus paints a picture of His second coming in terms of servants awaiting their master, not knowing when he will return from a wedding party.
Faithful stewards who are prepared at all times, being wise and fair with the master's assets and other servants, are to be rewarded. This reward is lavish, which “envisions a reversal of roles that was unheard of in Palestine” (Elwell, 823) where the master served the servants. Furthermore, those who have proven themselves faithful with what they've been given, will be entrusted with more. On the contrary, unfaithful stewards, squandering their master's assets and abusing other servants will be punished. This punishment is severe, for they are even to be assigned with unbelievers! In fact, their punishment will be worse than unbelievers, for punishment will be according to the degree of one's knowledge. Whatever they have will be taken from them.
The rewards and punishments will be intensified for those who have been given great gifts, since expectations of productivity are high because of those gifts. For those of us who know God's word, and know it to the extent that a seminary education has to offer, the stakes are high, which is why James warns against becoming teachers (James 3:1).