Responsibility and Reward
It is undoubtedly "fair." Most of us recognize that the person with the most responsibility should be rewarded with greater rewards for his success. Some of us hold that the higher the position, the greater the punishment for failure should be—but the world of late does not see it that way. No matter; our Lord sees it that way—and He's in charge.
When we read a passage like this, the temptation is to say, "I am so glad I don't have the pastor's job." (Me too.) But most of us have some form of responsibility, and with it a proportionate risk of punishment and possibility of reward.
Has God entrusted you with the riches of this world? Most of us would say "No." But consider: if you are an American, you are richer than 95% of the people on the planet. And the comparison isn't that close. There are places on earth where a year's wages would not keep your household for a week.
God does not make wealth a sin; he makes it a trust. He will ask you to give account of that wealth, as you used it for his kingdom. The more you have, the more severely you risk his wrath. The better you use it, the greater the reward.
Over his church
This is the obvious application of the passage. Are you a teacher? A pastor? A deacon or elder? One who has responsibility in the house of the Lord? Then this passage applies to you.
Over your family
Few may be rich; few pastors, but many have charge over a family. Did you know that you are given the same charge? How will God review your work with your family?
"Ignorance is no excuse," we say. This is true. If you have been given stewardship—over money, over the church, over your family—you are obliged as a good steward to know your Master's will. If you don't know, you should find out.
But let us suppose that you make a mistake in this. You read, you study, you come to the wrong conclusion. There is punishment for your failure coming—but it is nothing compared with the punishment for the one who knows. Ignorance—not willful ignorance, but lack of diligence and study—is punished lightly. Willful disobedience is punished much more severely. Sounds fair to me. How about you?